Instructor: Dr. Brempong
Project: Healers, Medicinal Treatments, and Folklore
This project will explore traditional medicine and religion. The case study sites can span anywhere in Ghana, though the student will focus special emphasis on Mamapone, a village roughly 20 miles outside of Accra. The student will perform several forms of case studies and interviews in order to extract the significance of traditional medicine on modern day Ghana. Both the psychological and physical components of traditional healing will be important to this project, as the student will both juxtapose the foundations of these approaches, as well as understanding the affect of a synergy of methods.
As background research, the student will attempt to understand the social, poetical, economic, religious, and cultural structure in communities that have active medicinal healers, priesthood specialists, or folklore traditions based on ethnomedicinal approaches. Within individual communities, people less oriented towards "formal" medicine, use certain plants and herbs for personal remedies; the origin of this basic knowledge may lead to further studies. Also of importance, the student will look at Ghanaian hospitals that combine western and traditional methods to assess which forms of care are most expensive, most convenient, and most time efficient. In adjunct to these studies, the student may have interest in exploring the commercialization of herbal medicinal products and how westernization has affected the local communities and cultures in which these treatments and resources originated.
Among several other questions, the student could explore the following:
How are the spiritual and physical components of medicinal treatment different in their approach? The same? Which is more prevalent where?
What plants are most commonly used as remedies or to treat illness?
What forms of traditional medicine practices exist?
How do different specialists differ in their approach? How are their differing approaches a function of their individual environment/community?
What is the healer's position within their community?
How have western methods combined with traditional? What social and cultural affects has this produced?