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Full Access The end of the Line? The Fracturing Of Authoritative Tibbi Knowledge in Twentieth-Century India

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The end of the Line? The Fracturing Of Authoritative Tibbi Knowledge in Twentieth-Century India

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This article examines the fissures that emerged between different forms of unani knowledge during the twentieth century in India and, specifically, the disjuncture between unani knowledge derived through institutional training and that gained by apprenticeship to established family practitioners. The first section sketches historically the modes of acquiring knowledge in tibb—through apprenticeship, institutional training, and self-tuition. Discussing the formation of unani institutions in the early twentieth century provides a foundation to explore the locus of authoritative knowledge and practice in tibb and a key to appreciating the kind of knowledge patients and unani practitioners alike consider reliable and genuine. The second section is intended as a counterpoint to this historical discussion. It reports on various forms of contemporary unani practice, mostly within family-based settings. This part highlights the fragility of forms of knowledge that are not a significant part of the curriculum within the network of government-funded and private unani teaching institutions in India. Three distinctive modes of practice in tibb serve as examples: urine diagnosis, pulse diagnosis, and the preparation of medicines.


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