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October 2021

Soc Sci Med. 1998 Dec; 47(12): 2127-37.

Radio and the commodification of natural medicine in Ecuador.

Miles A.

Department of Anthropology, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo 49008, USA. [email protected]

This paper explores the discourse that is being created around medical commodities in one Ecuadorian city in an effort to understand how desire for new medical products is generated and sustained. Commercial natural medicine, which includes vitamins, herbal remedies and tonics is a relatively new addition to the medical marketplace in Ecuador, yet the popularity of these products seems to be growing rapidly. Much of the success of natural medicines is due to promotional campaigns, most notably radio programs, that emphasize and manipulate, important cultural themes about the body, identity, morality and social success. Although on the surface natural medicine seems to be creating a radically new discourse about the body and illness causation, that discourse ultimately serves only to reinforce the unequal social relations associated with capitalist marketplaces.

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