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Appropriation of biomedicine in Southeast Asia

Moussons n°38 – publication expected in December 2021

Edited by Meriem M’zoughi (EVS, UMR5600)

This issue of Moussons is set to analyze western biomedical practices in Southeast Asia by taking an interest in their diversity of forms and uses. It is a question of studying the ways in which biomedicine fits within specific contexts; how it is applied, adapted, appropriated, reinvented… From treatments and care related to a pathology, to the conditions of exercise of the practitioners, by way of the uses of biomedical knowledge: what are the specificities and local realities of biomedicine? It is a question of surveying the dimensions of “care” when it is produced by actors who are mobilizing and appropriating the tools of biomedicine (conceptual and / or empirical). Sometimes, these practices are part of social spaces where several kind of therapeutic knowledges coexist, so we will seek to understand how these knowledges are intermingled and fed each other.

Research, could, for example, focus on the ways in which healers are using biomedicine (medical imaging and analysis or tests, consultation methods, industrial drugs etc.) during their practices (diagnosis, treatment) as well as on the ways in which physicians discuss, create a dialogue between their scientific knowledges and so-called common or folk knowledges. It will also involve documenting and describing the implications and legacies of the colonial period, global health policies, humanitarian (aid workers) activities etc. How do these varied influences, concretely, have an effect on health practices and biomedicine in Southeast Asia? In this perspective, the proposals may focus on a specific disease or on the way in which care is provided in and out of the hospital. We will look, for example, at how health professionals treat cancers, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases in Thailand, Burma or elsewhere.

Contributions may also approach local specificities – in terms of treatment and care – of so-called communicable diseases (tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS etc.) which, being at the heart of global issues, are often considered to be a public health priority. Papers could focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, other epidemics or pathologies, for example by looking at the articulation between international recommendations and local practices, or by comparing several countries. The goal is to study the processes of adaptation and appropriation of biomedicine by describing how the practitioners exercise on a daily basis.

Articles could analyse the ways in which care is dispensed in hospitals, private clinics and health centres in order to question, more broadly, what a “hospital” is and what it means to be a “doctor” in South East Asia. Far from being exhaustive, these questions aim to contribute to understanding how biomedicine interferes in the daily lives of patients and families, or conversely, how it is exceptional. Through the analysis of its current forms, what imaginary and values does it carry today in this region of the world?

This thematic issue of Moussons is open to all proposals related to biomedical health practices in Southeast Asia. As a comparative and interdisciplinary journal, Moussons welcomes all human and social sciences, including anthropology, sociology and history.

Proposals will be in the form of a text of 750 to 1000 words. They should include a title, a summary and a brief presentation of the author.

They must be sent by email before June 15, 2020 to

In the event of a positive response (before July 1), the complete articles will have to be sent by November 1, 2020. The expected format is 35,000 to 75,000 characters maximum (footnotes and spaces included). Contributions in English or French are welcome. For more information, please consult advice section for authors of the journal Moussons:

Papers will be review by the scientific supervisor and a member of the editorial committee before being evaluated according to the usual process of double external and anonymous evaluation. The issue is scheduled for December 2021.

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