Faith Healing in India: The Cultural Quotient of the Critical

LACROIX, Kimberly
DHAR, Anup

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17 pp

We have had two ‘cultures of critique'. One is where critique of a culture's own principles is generated internally. The other is when critique is mounted from the outside. This paper is an attempt to shore up the two-fold nature of both culture of critique and critique of culture through a close examination of an extant and entrenched cultural practice provisionally called ‘faith healing' in its interlocution with western mental health models that are incumbent upon the Indian setting. This paper will explore what critical theory may need to consider in the context of India. Would it need a cultural turn, a culturalising? What is meant by culturalising? Would ‘culturalising', in turn, be premised on a bidirectional or dual critique, that is, a critique of both the West's hegemonic principles as well as principles that hegemonize the East, emanating from either the West or from the East? What relation would critique set up with an existing culture and cultural practice? What relation would culture set up with an existing culture of critique? In the process, this paper is also an attempt to inaugurate and locate the beginning coordinates of a critique of critique through the turn to culture in conditions called ‘faith healing'. The paper is also about the tense and troubled dialogue between the current globalization of certain frameworks in mental health, and local (faith-based) practices of health and healing that have survived in India; survived even in mutation and transformation, through colonialism, civilizing mission, welfarism and developmentalism. How would the knowledge and practice of mental health take shape in India – a landscape crisscrossed by on the one hand, aggressively modern institutions of mental health science and on the other, extant and surviving institutions of faith-based healing practices? While we remain critically mired in faith-based practices, while we cannot but be critical of some faith-based practices, we also cannot announce the silent demise of all Other imaginations of health and healing and let One global discourse take hold of all cultures. Hence, perhaps the need for what we have called the difficult ‘dual critique’. For critique also means an account of and an attention to experience and practice; an account formulated on its own terms and not on terms put in place by globalizing discourses. 


Disability and the Global South, 2014, Vol. 1 No. 2

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