Health Place. 1998 Dec; 4(4): 293-311.
Therapeutic landscapes of the Jola, The Gambia, West Africa.
Department of Geography, University of Leicester, UK.
This paper contributes to the 'new' medical geography through its analysis of the therapeutic landscapes of the Jola of The Gambia. The paper advances the debate surrounding the conceptualization of medicine and health through a review of literature on African medicinal systems; it examines in detail the health care system of the Jola of The Gambia, documenting indigenous human and ethnoveterinary medical beliefs and practices and focusing in particular on the role of herbal medicine; and it discusses the interactions and links between indigenous medicine and biomedicine, thus demonstrating the importance of placing an understanding of health care systems in different places within an awareness of global power relations. The paper therefore links cultural perspectives with a political economy analysis, to highlight the importance of place and specificity of cultural context when investigating health care beliefs and practices. The intention of the paper is to present a theoretically informed empirical case study which reinforces the practical value of a 'new' medical geography.