Between literal lesions and literary tropes - a proposal for examining the discourse of healing in some African indigenous churches.
Allan, Austin James.
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Approaches to indigenous healing in South Africa need to be situated in the broader health care system within which that healing occurs. To facilitate a viable recognition of that indigenous healing, this paper argues that categories need to be defined which allow for the cross-cultural comparison of different forms of healing. One of these categories concerns the analytical approach which is used for explaining what happens during indigenous healing. By developing a proposal for analysing the discourse of healing in some African Indigenous Churches (AICs), what this paper purports to do is to lend recognition to the viable and important role which indigenous practitioners have in contributing to the general system of health care. This proposed model is applied to specific examples of indigenous healing drawn from the AIC healers included in the fieldwork. The conclusion reached is that healing in these churches operates within a particular discourse. As cultural constructions these discourses create important sociosomatic links between the general meaning system in which a person lives and her physiological functioning. It is in the process of rhetorical movement, observable in healing transactions and which occurs across these discourses, that the powerful endogenous healing processes are activated, and a change in the patient's condition is affected. This change is affected along the sociosomatic linkage.