Asian medicines are not what they used to be. Consumed by over half of the world’s population, they have become dynamic, innovative, and profitable industries that are an integral part of modern Asia and global health care. Moving beyond the framework of “traditional medicine,” Stephan Kloos aims to generate new ways of understanding Asian medicines in a contemporary and global context.
Taking Sowa Rigpa as a particularly illustrative example, Stephan has studied and documented these unprecedented transformations of Asian medicines and global health care since 2001. How did Tibetan and other Asian medicines become placeholders for national identities, official health resources and transnational industries? What are the consequences of such developments for these healing traditions, their communities, and (global) public health?
Conducting extensive ethnographic fieldwork among Sowa Rigpa communities in India, China, Mongolia, and Bhutan to explore these questions, Stephan has led competitively funded research projects of increasingly expanding scale.