Accepted paper:

Aesthetics, Healing and Embodied Experience in Dehradun: a comparative approach to healing and aesthetics in a north Indian urban context.

Authors:

Serena Bindi (Paris Descartes University)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution adopts a comparative approach to healing and aesthetics in different healing systemsin Dehradun (Uttarakhand). The aim of this paper is to explore the complex ways in which ritual healing and biomedicine in two different settings engage the senses and aesthetics of the patient and its family in order to affect their embodied experience.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on an intensive fieldwork carried out in the city of Dehradun (North India), in two different settings for assessment and healing: a facility that provides physical and mental function assessment and therapy for families with children with special needs and a small and crowded temple where a local medium offers divination and therapeutic treatments to patients and sufferers. While recent studies have shown how the basis for the efficacy of some treatments can be found in the fact that they are directed at engaging the patient's senses, a gap seems to persist in comparisons of the aesthetics of different healing techniques (from biomedicine to ritual healing) and analysis of the dissimilar ways in which they work in eliciting a change in the embodied state of the sufferers. In order to contribute to filling this gap, this contribution adopts a comparative approach to healing and aesthetics in different healing systems. The aim of this paper is to explore the complex ways in which ritual healing and biomedicine in two different settings engage the senses and aesthetics of the patient and its family in order to affect their embodied experience. Moreover, taking into account the fact that local systems of healing are incessantly brought into contact with one another, the paper offers critical reflection upon the impact of this encounter on the aesthetics of these different contexts for diagnosis and healing.

panel P46
Aesthetics of healing and the body in a globalising world