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Restoring the Balance

Performing Healing in West Papua

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The study offers an ethnographically rich journey through the variety of healing methods in current Ayfat society: indigenous (obtained during female and male initiation rites), biomedical (the missionary hospital), and Christian (created by ritual healers since the coming of the missionaries). Likewise, the causes ascribed to illness range from sorcery, witchcraft, violation of ancestral or biblical rules, to biomedical conditions, a multiplicity of ways of understanding illness and healing that emerged in the context of religious change. Making choices among the variety of healing performances, and the creation of new performances, are shown to be dynamic processes. At the core are the innovative contributions of local healers, particularly women, who chose to create new performances in the face of religious change. <i>Restoring the Balance</i> looks at indigenous and Christian religious practices, and how people in northwest Ayfat have found a way to integrate the two and bring both sides into balance.

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