SHARING THE BURDEN OF SICKNESS: A HISTORY OF HEALING IN ACCRA, GOLD COAST, 1677 to 1957.
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Over the past three hundred years, the healing culture of Accra has been characterized by therapeutic pluralism rather than by the dominance of one particular regime of healing. Five major therapeutic traditions developed, including: (1) healing methods derived from West African cultures (offered by shrine priests, spirit mediums, herbalists, and layhealers with home remedies); (2) localized versions of Islamic therapies (provided by Muslim clerics and makers of medicines using the powers of the Quran); (3) Christian faith-healing (offered by pastors who used the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to heal); (4) medical treatments (provided by doctors, nurses and dispensers); and (5) patterns of self-healing by sufferers (with the aid of herbal medicines, patent medicines and pharmaceuticals). This dissertation will trace the simultaneous development of these traditions, demonstrating how patients shared the burden of their sickness with a variety of practitioners, knitting together different traditions to create a pluralistic healing culture. This approach will challenge historiographical conventions that have framed the story of healing in Africa within a linear narrative of medical progress, and that have privileged the activities of European-trained surgeons and physicians.