Route to Medical Anthropology


– I had never anticipated
that I would go off and become interested in
medicine in particular or in practices of healing. But I did. And that’s where my career has gone. I think at a very personal
level, to be honest, finding Nepal and finding my relationship to a place and to a group of people who are still part of my
life now 23 years later was a process of healing
personally for me. Finding family, finding
kinship that was very different than the kind of loving but also very tumultuous
part of my childhood and young adulthood, so the whole process in a sense was of certain kind of medicine. It was a way of understanding also that there are different pathways to feeling good about
yourself and in the world and pathways to feeling ill. I got interested in medicine in particular by working with traditional doctors, Tibetan doctors, who had many, many roles in their lives and in their societies. They were not just doctors. And I found something really beautiful and deeply curious about that, that coming from a society and a culture in which we so demarcate and professionalize who has the capacity or the expertise to be a healer and coming in to a society in which there were still
a huge amount of work that went into being able
to call yourself an amchi, the Tibetan word for doctor, but that did not negate the fact that these folks were also
wood carvers, and artists, and priests, Buddhist priests. And there was something about the wholism contained in that view of medicine that really made sense to me. And that I wanted to continue to explore.