Joseph Alter (University of Pittsburgh)
Although it was invented in Germany in the 19th century, Nature Cure, as a distinct system of medicine, is institutionalized and professionalized in India, where it is now more popular and pervasive than almost anywhere else in the world. This is very odd, for a number of reasons, including the fact that India is the “cultural home” of one of the world’s most popular forms of alternative, holistic therapy ? Ayurveda. One might say, to adapt a vintage colonial phrase, that importing Nature Cure to India was rather like bringing coal to Newcastle: redundant. So what does Nature Cure have to offer that Ayurveda does not? There are many answers to this question, some simple and others more nuanced. But the question itself and the apparent redundancy it bespeaks, highlights some interesting problems in the study of colonialism, power and the body. One of these problems concerns the nature of ecology in relation to health, and the connection between the embodiment of ecology and the affective politics of intimate nationalism. Among other things, this talk examines the embodiment of the feeling of belonging as an expression of desire in the context of nationalist sentiments.
* Co-sponsored by the Department of South Asia Studies