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Med Anthropol. 2010 Jan;29(1):15-43. doi: 10.1080/01459740903517378.

From non-aligned medicines to market-based herbals: China's relationship to the shifting politics of traditional medicine in Tanzania.

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Department of Anthropology, Cornell University, 260 McGraw Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


The institutionalization of traditional medicine in Tanzania reveals how strategies for socialist liberation are morphing into strategies for neoliberalization. In the 1960s and 1970s, traditional medicine promised the raw material for the scientific development of an indigenous pharmaceutical industry. At the turn of the millennium, however, traditional medicine has re-emerged in Tanzania as a new path into the fast-growing global herbals market. Tanzania's relationship with China has been central to these dynamics. Development programs rooted in socialist friendship trained Tanzanian doctors in China throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. These practitioners forged Tanzanian efforts to develop and modernize traditional medicine. In this article, I look with particular detail at one woman who was chosen to start the Office of Traditional Medicine in the Ministry of Health in Tanzania, in order to elaborate the continuities and discontinuities central to the emerging field of market-based traditional medicines.

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