Healing the Exposed Being Cover

Healing the Exposed Being

The Ngoma Healing Tradition In South Africa

304 pages

May, 2017

ISBN: 9781776140183



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Robert Thornton has conducted long-term ethnographic research in South Africa as an anthropologist at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg since 1992, and in Tanzania and Uganda. He obtained his PhD from the University of Chicago, and previously taught at the University of Cape Town.

The Ngoma healing tradition as practiced in eastern Mpumalanga, South Africa through political, economic, interpretive and environmental lenses. 

This ethnography explores the Ngoma healing tradition as practiced in eastern Mpumalanga, South Africa. Bungoma is an active philosophical system and healing practice consisting of multiple strands, based on the notion that humans are intrinsically exposed to each other and that this is the cause of illness, but also the condition for the possibility of healing. This healing seeks to protect the 'exposed being' from harm through augmenting the self. Unlike Western medicine, it does not seek to cure physical ailments but aims to prevent suffering by allowing patients to transform their personal narratives of Self. Like Western medicine, it is empirical and is presented as a 'local knowledge' that amounts to a practical anthropology of human conflict and the environment. The book seeks to bring this anthropology and its therapeutic applications into relation with global academic anthropology by explaining it through political, economic, interpretive, and environmental lenses