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Contingent Efficacies in Buryat Tibetan Medicine

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Focusing on sites of encounter between post-socialist biomedicine and Tibetan medicine in Eastern Siberia, this article explores overlapping ideologies of efficacy at work. In the absence of a single framework for determining its potencies, Tibetan medicine is caught between multiple regimes of legitimacy necessitated by scientific research, clinical protocols, and state regulatory frameworks. Through an exploration of three ethnographic case studies, this article tracks how those working with Tibetan medicine highlight instead the conditional nature of its therapeutic action. By adopting the frame of contingent efficacies, the article explores how practitioners of Tibetan medicine in Russia conceive of the medicines and techniques they deploy as always already situated extensions of specific social relations, political formations, forms of practice, and epistemological commitments. By pointing to the failures at commensuration with different regimes of abstraction these accounts offer a lens into the cultural politics of medical pluralism in Inner Asia.

Affiliations: 1: Tufts University, Dapartment of Anthropology


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