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Health-seeking nomads and faith-healing in a medically pluralistic context in Mbeya, Tanzania

Gammelin, Lotta LU (2018) In Mission Studies 35(2). p.245-264
Abstract

The popularity of faith-healing in sub-Saharan Africa has been widely acknowledged in research, but mostly treated as a phenomenon apart, instead of being viewed in relation to other modes of healing. In this article I focus on the reasons why believers choose faith-healing in a medically pluralistic situation and how they see other healing options available in a locally founded Charismatic church community, the Gospel Miracle Church for All People (GMCL), in the Southern Tanzanian city of Mbeya. I propose that, in order to see the medically pluralistic context in Tanzania through the journeys of health-seeking nomads, the focus must lie on two intertwined aspects of faith-healing: first, it is inevitably based on the need to be healed... (More)

The popularity of faith-healing in sub-Saharan Africa has been widely acknowledged in research, but mostly treated as a phenomenon apart, instead of being viewed in relation to other modes of healing. In this article I focus on the reasons why believers choose faith-healing in a medically pluralistic situation and how they see other healing options available in a locally founded Charismatic church community, the Gospel Miracle Church for All People (GMCL), in the Southern Tanzanian city of Mbeya. I propose that, in order to see the medically pluralistic context in Tanzania through the journeys of health-seeking nomads, the focus must lie on two intertwined aspects of faith-healing: first, it is inevitably based on the need to be healed and speaks of a failure of biomedicine to explain illness and provide healing; and second, the long journeys that are made in search of healing mean traversing boundaries and switching between parallel healing systems: biomedicine, traditional healing, and faith-healing. While health seeking nomads are in many ways in a vulnerable position, I suggest that their ability to move from one healing option to another speaks of agency: not in the sense of full control over their life situations but, rather, as a way of coming to terms with their illness.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Charismatic Christianity, Faith-healing, Health seeking behavior, Medical pluralism, Tanzania, Vulnerability
in
Mission Studies
volume
35
issue
2
pages
20 pages
publisher
Brill Academic Publishers
external identifiers
  • scopus:85049231125
ISSN
0168-9789
DOI
10.1163/15733831-12341569
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
50418008-e8ea-423c-bc1f-da6214d003b1
date added to LUP
2018-07-17 11:33:52
date last changed
2020-01-16 03:26:59
@article{50418008-e8ea-423c-bc1f-da6214d003b1,
  abstract     = {<p>The popularity of faith-healing in sub-Saharan Africa has been widely acknowledged in research, but mostly treated as a phenomenon apart, instead of being viewed in relation to other modes of healing. In this article I focus on the reasons why believers choose faith-healing in a medically pluralistic situation and how they see other healing options available in a locally founded Charismatic church community, the Gospel Miracle Church for All People (GMCL), in the Southern Tanzanian city of Mbeya. I propose that, in order to see the medically pluralistic context in Tanzania through the journeys of health-seeking nomads, the focus must lie on two intertwined aspects of faith-healing: first, it is inevitably based on the need to be healed and speaks of a failure of biomedicine to explain illness and provide healing; and second, the long journeys that are made in search of healing mean traversing boundaries and switching between parallel healing systems: biomedicine, traditional healing, and faith-healing. While health seeking nomads are in many ways in a vulnerable position, I suggest that their ability to move from one healing option to another speaks of agency: not in the sense of full control over their life situations but, rather, as a way of coming to terms with their illness.</p>},
  author       = {Gammelin, Lotta},
  issn         = {0168-9789},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {245--264},
  publisher    = {Brill Academic Publishers},
  series       = {Mission Studies},
  title        = {Health-seeking nomads and faith-healing in a medically pluralistic context in Mbeya, Tanzania},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15733831-12341569},
  doi          = {10.1163/15733831-12341569},
  volume       = {35},
  year         = {2018},
}