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September 2022

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1988 Mar; 12(1): 65-83.

The baladi curative system of Cairo, Egypt.

Early EA.

Department of Anthropology/Honors Program, University of Houston-University Park.

The article explores the symbolic structure of the baladi (traditional) cultural system as revealed in everyday narratives, with a focus on baladi curative action. The everyday illness narrative provides a cultural window to the principles of fluidity and restorative balance of baladi curative practices. The body is seen as a dynamic organism through which both foreign objects and physiological entities can move. The body should be in balance, as with any humorally-influenced system, and so baladi cures aim to restore normal balance and functioning of the body. The article examines in detail a narrative on treatment of a sick child, and another on treatment of fertility problems. It traces such cultural oppositions as insider: outsider; authentic:inauthentic; home remedy:cosmopolitan medicine. In the social as well as the medical arena these themes organize social/medical judgements about correct action and explanations of events.

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