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Mixed MedicinesHealth and Culture in French Colonial Cambodia$
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Sokhieng Au

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226031637

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226031651.001.0001

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: Cultural Insolubilities

: Cultural Insolubilities

(p.181) Seven: Cultural Insolubilities
Mixed Medicines
University of Chicago Press

This chapter asks whether an effective Western medical system actually was constructed in Cambodia by the end of the colonial period. The Assistance Médicale effectively functioned in Cambodia from 1907 to 1940. It is observed that colonialism clearly had a profound effect on the structure of scientific and medical research. The gulf in conceptualizations of illness between colonizer and colonized arose with the growth of microbiology and revolution in germ theory in the West. Cambodia still has a multiplicity of thriving medical traditions. Most births and deaths still occur in the home. The overwhelming majority of Khmers turn to traditional medicine before resorting to Western medicine or visiting the hospital. Bringing the many characters' stories together draws attention to the vast ontological gap between Khmer and French understandings of medicine, but also to the unexpected similarities in internal social dynamics within different cultural spheres.

Keywords:   Western medical system, Cambodia, Assistance Médicale, colonialism, illness, Khmers, traditional medicine, Western medicine

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