Healers and Empires in Global History

Healing as Hybrid and Contested Knowledge

  • Markku Hokkanen
  • Kalle Kananoja

Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)

About this book


This book explores cross-cultural medical encounters involving non-Western healers in a variety of imperial contexts from the Arctic, Asia, Africa, Americas and the Caribbean. It highlights contests over healing, knowledge and medicines through the frameworks of hybridisation and pluralism. The intertwined histories of medicine, empire and early globalisation influenced the ways in which millions of people encountered and experienced suffering, healing and death. In an increasingly global search for therapeutics and localised definition of acceptable healing, networks and mobilities played key roles. Healers’ engagements with politics, law and religion underline the close connections between healing, power and authority. They also reveal the agency of healers, sufferers and local societies, in encounters with modernising imperial states, medical science and commercialisation. The book questions and complements the traditional narratives of triumphant biomedicine, reminding readers that ‘traditional’ medical cultures and practitioners did not often disappear, but rather underwent major changes in the increasingly interconnected world.


1700s, 1800s, 1900s History of medicine Indigenous healers Medical pluralism Arctic Americas Caribbean Soviet Union Africa Folk healers Imperial connections History of ritual

Editors and affiliations

  • Markku Hokkanen
    • 1
  • Kalle Kananoja
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.African StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-15490-5
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-15491-2
  • Buy this book on publisher's site