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Materializing complementary and alternative medicine: aromatherapy, chiropractic, and Chinese herbal medicine in the UK

Doel, Marcus A. and Segrott, Jeremy ORCID: 2004. Materializing complementary and alternative medicine: aromatherapy, chiropractic, and Chinese herbal medicine in the UK. Geoforum 35 (6) , pp. 727-738. 10.1016/j.geoforum.2004.02.004

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The paper explores the materiality of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), with particular reference to aromatherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, and chiropractic, as presented in the journals of UK-based practitioner associations. The paper begins by arguing for a poststructuralist approach to materiality. It then considers how certain materials play a signature (or emblematic) role in the definition and practice of various CAM modalities. Focusing primarily on the examples of essential oils and herbal remedies, we consider how such materials are valued for their agency and expressiveness within the therapeutic encounter. However, these signature materials also possess the ability to produce unwanted effects which regulators, practitioners, and manufacturers seek to control. Consequently, the materialization of CAM is fraught with tension. In addition to these signature materials, the paper also considers the wider assemblage of materials (especially treatment couches) that supplement the taking place of CAM. Although these supplementary materials are often treated in a functional, instrumental, and taken-for-granted manner, these materials are also shown to be duplicitous. The paper concludes by arguing that the continuing professionalization and regulation of the UK CAM sector is radically changing the situated consistency of its signature and supplementary materials.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aromatherapy; Chinese herbal medicine; Chiropractic; Complementary and alternative medicine; Professionalization; Regulation; Materialism; Poststructuralism
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0016-7185
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 09:18

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