Tibetan medicine off the roads [Elektronische Ressource] : modernizing the work of the Amchi in Spiti / von Nils Florian Besch

Tibetan Medicine Off the Roads:Modernizing the Work of the Amchi in SpitiDissertation zur Erlangung der DoktorwürdeVorgelegt an der Fakultät für Verhaltens- und Empirische Kulturwissenschaftender Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg im Fach EthnologieVon Nils Florian BeschHeidelberg, im August 2006 Tibetan Medicine Off the Roads: Modernizing the Work of the Amchi in Spiti Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde Vorgelegt an der Fakultät für Verhaltens- und Empirische Kulturwissenschaften der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg im Fach Ethnologie Erstprüfer: Prof. William S. Sax, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Zweitprüfer: Prof. Toni Huber, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Von Nils Florian Besch Heidelberg, im August 2006 Table of Contents – Overview Table of Contents – Overview Acknowledgements Prologue Off the Roads with an Amchi ........................................................................1 1. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................10 1.1 The Land In-Between17 1.2 Marginality and Modernization ......................................................................34 1.3 A Brief Institutional History of Sowa Rigpa ..................................................45 2. AMCHI ON THE ROAD .............................................................................57 2.1 Traditional Education ..................................
Publié le : lundi 1 janvier 2007
Lecture(s) : 36
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Source : ARCHIV.UB.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE/VOLLTEXTSERVER/VOLLTEXTE/2007/7893/PDF/DISS.ONLINEFASSUNG.BESCH.PDF
Nombre de pages : 365
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Tibetan Medicine Off the Roads:
Modernizing the Work of the Amchi in Spiti
Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde
Vorgelegt an der Fakultät für
Verhaltens- und Empirische Kulturwissenschaften
der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
im Fach Ethnologie
Von Nils Florian Besch
Heidelberg, im August 2006



Tibetan Medicine Off the Roads:
Modernizing the Work of the Amchi in Spiti









Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde

Vorgelegt an der Fakultät für
Verhaltens- und Empirische Kulturwissenschaften
der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg im Fach Ethnologie


Erstprüfer: Prof. William S. Sax, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Zweitprüfer: Prof. Toni Huber, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Von Nils Florian Besch

Heidelberg, im August 2006
Table of Contents – Overview
Table of Contents – Overview
Acknowledgements
Prologue Off the Roads with an Amchi ........................................................................1
1. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................10
1.1 The Land In-Between17
1.2 Marginality and Modernization ......................................................................34
1.3 A Brief Institutional History of Sowa Rigpa ..................................................45
2. AMCHI ON THE ROAD .............................................................................57
2.1 Traditional Education ......................................................................................58
2.2 The Decline of the Local Transmission...........................................................76
2.3 New Ways of Education ...................................................................................86
2.4 What Makes a “Good Amchi”?.....................................................................104
3. AMCHI AT HOME ..................................................................................111
3.1 Aspects of Healing...........................................................................................111
3.1.1 Pulse Reading ..........................................................................................113
3.1.2 The Making of Medicine..........................................................................125
3.1.3 Tantric Healing ........................................................................................155
3.2 The Socio-Political Dimension of Amchi Medicine......................................185
3.2.1 Social Change and the Amchi-Patient Relationship................................187
3.2.2 Alienated in Kaza.....................................................................................206
4. MAKING A MEDICAL LIVING................................................................218
4.1 The Breakdown of Exchange.........................................................................219
4.2 Money for Medicine241
4.3 Making a Living as an Amchi........................................................................251
5. AMCHI ON THE MOVE – A POWER STRUGGLE FOR THE FUTURE ......259
5.1 Demanding Professionalization .....................................................................260
5.2 Interacting with Centers ................................................................................285
5.3 Rationalization and Globalization.................................................................298
6. SPITI AMCHI OFF THE ROADS – CONCLUSION ....................................309
Abbreviations................................................................................................................321
Remarks on Orthography and Glossary........................................................................322
Bibliography .................................................................................................................329 Detailed Table of Contents
Detailed Table of Contents
Acknowledgements
Prologue Off the Roads with an Amchi ........................................................................1
1. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................10
1.1 The Land In-Between17
Setting ........................................................................................................18
Economy.....................................................................................................19
Society21
Religious and Political History..................................................................24
Socio-Economic Change............................................................................27
Progressive Infrastructure.........................................................................32
1.2 Marginality and Modernization ......................................................................34
1.3 A Brief Institutional History of Sowa Rigpa ..................................................45
The Origin of Tibetan Medicine.................................................................45
The Rgyud bzhi...........................................................................................47
Developments since the Seventeenth Century............................................51
2. AMCHI ON THE ROAD .............................................................................57
2.1 Traditional Education ......................................................................................58
Family Background....................................................................................62
Principle Lines of Training........................................................................63
Knowledge and Experience .......................................................................67
The Special Status of the Lineages ............................................................69
2.2 The Decline of the Local Transmission...........................................................76
The Weight of Modern Education..............................................................76
Particularities within Pin Valley ...............................................................81
A Few Further Considerations ..................................................................83
2.3 New Ways of Education ...................................................................................86
Graduates from Men-Tsee-Khang .............................................................86
Becoming a Modern Amchi........................................................................88
Considering an Amchi Career ...................................................................94
General Survey Data on the Amchi Community........................................99
2.4 What Makes a “Good Amchi”?.....................................................................102 Detailed Table of Contents
3. AMCHI AT HOME ..................................................................................111
3.1 Aspects of Healing...........................................................................................111
3.1.1 Pulse Reading ..........................................................................................113
The Technique of Diagnosis ....................................................................114
The Potentials of Pulse Diagnosis...........................................................116
By First Touch .........................................................................................121
Changing the Meaning of Diagnosing.....................................................123
3.1.2 The Making of Medicine .........................................................................125
Producing Medicine.................................................................................126
Global and Local Changes Regarding Medicine ....................................132
Competing Resources ..............................................................................134
The Efficacy of Medicine136
Reducing Medicine ..................................................................................142
Ritual Empowerment................................................................................144
Powder versus Pill – Debating Efficacy ..................................................147
One Step Beyond – Visions ......................................................................151
The Essential Dilemma: An Amchi Needs Medicine ...............................154
3.1.3 Tantric Healing ........................................................................................155
Separating Medicine and Religion ..........................................................155
A Pluralism of Religious Practitioners....................................................158
Mental Illness and Evil Spirits.................................................................164
The Musician’s Illness .............................................................................170
Creating Tantric Power...........................................................................173
Status and Identity ...................................................................................179
The Collective and the Individual............................................................181
3.2 The Socio-Political Dimension of Amchi Medicine......................................185
3.2.1 Social Change and the Amchi-Patient Relationship................................187
The Dissolution of the Amchi’s Monopoly...............................................188
Health Care Seeking Behavior ................................................................191
Breaking-Away from Mutuality ...............................................................195
Social Status.............................................................................................198
Village Politics.........................................................................................201
Individual Amchi-Patient Interactions.....................................................204
3.2.2 Alienated in Kaza.....................................................................................206
Being an Amchi in Kaza...........................................................................207
Drawing Status from NGO Activity? .......................................................211
Political and Institutional Engagement ...................................................213 Detailed Table of Contents
4. MAKING A MEDICAL LIVING................................................................218
4.1 The Breakdown of Exchange .........................................................................219
Some Supraregional Historical References.............................................219
Reciprocal Exchange in Spiti...................................................................222
Power and Morality: The Safety of Being an Amchi ...............................225
Medicine as a Gift....................................................................................229
Contemporary Local Variations ..............................................................231
Consequences of the Breakdown .............................................................234
Amchi Medicine as a Loss Market...........................................................239
4.2 Money for Medicine........................................................................................241
Various Uses of Money for Health Care .................................................242
Amchi Work is not Repayable..................................................................243
Money as Sman Yon.................................................................................247
Monetizing Medicines..............................................................................250
4.3 Making a Living as an Amchi........................................................................251
Gift and Commodity252
Financing Models for the Future.............................................................254
5. AMCHI ON THE MOVE – A POWER STRUGGLE FOR THE FUTURE ......259
5.1 Demanding Professionalization .....................................................................260
Policies and Legitimations.......................................................................263
Standards of Tibetan Medicine................................................................266
Projects of the Amchi Community ...........................................................268
Analyzing the Elements of Professionalization........................................278
More Amchi Sangh...................................................................................280
Local Legitimation282
5.2 Interacting with Centers ................................................................................285
The Supremacy of Dharamshala..............................................................286
The Influence of the State.........................................................................290
The New Strategy of Self-Marketing........................................................295
5.3 Rationalization and Globalization.................................................................298
Shaping Modernization............................................................................298
Adapting the Margin304
6. SPITI AMCHI OFF THE ROADS – CONCLUSION ....................................309 Detailed Table of Contents
Abbreviations................................................................................................................321
Remarks on Orthography and Glossary........................................................................322
Bibliography .................................................................................................................329 Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements
My experience in Spiti – almost two years total through six trips – was unforgettable:
full of wonderful moments of shared company and insights and enriched by the
friendships developed during my extensive stays in winter. All of this was only possible
due to the gracious and warm hospitality of the Spiti people, who welcomed me whole-
heartedly into their lives. The entire time I wrote this thesis, their presence – and the
memories of the sunny morning views over the mountains – remained with me and
encouraged me through this work. The Spiti people who supported me are too many to
name, and I regret I cannot list them all here. I owe special gratitude to Nono Sonam
Angdus, who was a continuous source of knowledge and information and helped me
with any organizational matters. Furthermore, I’d like to also thank Ishita Khanna (of
the NGO Muse) who continues to be my fastest gateway for news from Spiti. While
staying in Spiti, the families of Phuntsok Palbar Guesthouse and Serkhong Guesthouse
treated me like one of their own, especially when they shared their ovens with me
during the harsh winters. Their houses became real homes to me.
The local amchi association, the Spiti Board of Amchi Sangh, was of great help
and continuously supported my investigations. I am especially indebted to all the amchi
who answered my continuous questioning and let me take part in their knowledge,
work, and family lives. I am very grateful to Amchi Chullim for his patience and
inexhaustible reservoir of expertise. As well, I’m appreciative of the time and energy
Amchi Tsering Dorje dedicated to me, taking me over mountain paths and being a
continuous source of joy and knowledge. With Amchi Thupten Thapke, I share a deep
friendship which is beyond anything I could describe in words here. Thanks to him and
his family, I always have a place to go to when I visit Spiti. I owe him much gratitude
for all his medical expertise and his philosophical understanding that strongly
contributed to my own incipient understanding of amchi medicine. A special thanks also
goes to Tashi Lodoe Bodh for his excellent skills as a companion and research assistant.
For the time spent researching, as well as the actual writing of my dissertation,
I’d like to acknowledge the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation for the generous funding I
received, as well as the beneficial information from their seminars that I attended. In
addition, the French Institute of Pondicherry (“Societies and Medicines in South Asia”
Program) greatly supported my work organizationally while I was in south India in the Acknowledgements
spring of 2003, and who have been supporting my work scientifically since 2005. I am
especially grateful to Laurent Pordié, who was not only a helpful and sympathetic
scientific advisor, but who has since become an academic ally and more importantly, a
close friend. I also received great support through the scientific exchange with the like-
minded community of colleagues of the Research Unit of the NGO Nomad RSI. I am
very thankful to Nomad RSI for funding and supporting my research in Ladakh in 2001,
which led to the basis for this thesis. Moreover, I’d also like to thank Prof. Hauser-
Schäublin, who has constantly encouraged me since my very first fieldwork, helped
direct my thoughts and ideas, and supported me in the last years by infrastructural
means. For further continuous infrastructural support, I would like to acknowledge as
well the Department of Anthropology at the South Asia Institute at the University of
Heidelberg. Additionally, I’d like to thank my colleagues at the Doktoranden-
Kolloquium, who commented on and gave useful ideas regarding earlier versions of
selected chapters. I am also indebted and very grateful to my supervisor Prof. William
S. Sax, who unconditionally encouraged me from the very beginning, guided me
through my biggest difficulties in the analysis, and finally pushed me forward to finish
the dissertation project.
Thanks go as well to Mona Schrempf for her repeated revisioning and useful
comments on an initial version of Chapter 4. Isabelle Guérin also greatly helped with
her insights on the economics of amchi medicine in Ladakh. For their comments and
suggestions on parts of the dissertation, I am also very grateful to Karin Klenke,
Johanna Offe, Anna Winkelkotte, and especially Calum Blaikie, who also provided
insight and support in the initial stages of this dissertation. I’d like to also acknowledge
Helene Wahba and Daniela Rätz, who both invested their time and effort for the list of
references. I am also very grateful to Julianna Butler, who helped polish up my English,
direct my writing to the key points of analysis, and served as a great support in the final
stage of the dissertation.
Tremendous thanks goes to my close friends and family who have helped me in
all regards in finally getting to this point. Among these, I’m especially grateful to my
‘Wohngemeinschaft’, who took up my ‘jobs,’ helped me through the depth of writing,
and supported me at all times. I especially appreciate Claas Köhler, who arranged the
photos and map; Dani Marx, who arranged the layout and was a great help through the
entire process in directing my thoughts; and Sandra Ripke, who supported me with her
help and smiles. I am thankful beyond words for the performance, power, and affection Acknowledgements
of Kerstin Lüpkes; without her constant emotional and physical support, I would have
never even made it to this point. Additionally, I am very fortunate to have had little
Bjarne Pema around me, whose presence gave me the necessary strength to continue
working.
Last but not least, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all my
teachers.

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