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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Health strategies of Indo-Fijian women in the context of Fiji Gill, Kuldip


The approach of this enquiry is to describe and analyze the processes and interactions which occur when Indo-Fijian women seek health care from their medical system made up of traditional beliefs and practices, combined with alternative sources of healing such as the Biomedical system, and some Fijian practices. Throughout, I have been concerned with discovering the strategic choices and decisions which Indo-Fijians employ in their transactions with a number of traditional types of healers such as pandits, pujaris, maulvis, orjahs and dais, as well as doctors and nurses in the biomedical sector. I have used the concept of process as basic to this enquiry and I have paid attention to those processes which display social behaviour in empirical events or situations, and thus on emergent medical systems. Thus, the approach chosen for this study is particularly suitable in the case of Indo-Fijians who arrived in Fiji as indentured labourers, and have had to adapt, to regularize their lives through situational adjustment. The methods used for data collection were participant-observation in two Indo-Fijian settlements and in a Western Biomedical hospital, in health centres and district nursing stations; as well as the use of archival and library materials. The enquiry, the first of its kind on health strategies of Indo-Fijian women, concludes with a chapter which discusses the interactions and processes between all medical care domains used by Indo-Fijians. Indo-Fijians do not distinguish between medical systems; their medical system Is Indian in its ideology but lacks the practice of the therapies of professionalized Indian medical systems; it has retained religious healing, reconstructed and synthesized folk healing traditions from many parts of India, as well as adding elements from Fijian healing. While it is also Western in its use of professional therapies, it lacks the ideological foundations of biomedicine.

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