BHLP Current Research
Chinese Medicine and Healing in America: 1849-2009
Linda L. Barnes
Dr. Linda Barnes is working on a social history and ethnography of Chinese medicine and healing practices in the United States from 1849 to 2009. This project will build on her book Needles, Herbs, Gods, and Ghosts: China, Healing, and the West to 1848 (Harvard University, 2005), and on her scholarship and writing in anthropology and religious studies related to contemporary forms of Chinese medicine and healing in the U.S. The result will be an ethnographically nuanced social history, and a historically informed ethnography.
Social histories and ethnographies of American medicine—even its “unconventional” forms—rarely include traditions introduced by non-Europeans as significant illustrations of human social and cultural variation. This book will provide the first comprehensive study of Chinese medicine and healing in the U.S. beginning in 1849, the first year of large-scale Chinese immigration, and continuing through 2009. The project is national in scope. Selected local sites will illustrate regional variations of different Chinese healing practices throughout the U.S., as adopted by different racial/ethnic groups. The hypothesis is that attitudes and values embodied in theories and practices of healing cast light on social perspectives on the body, race, gender, class, illness, and health
The Role of Medical Interpreters as Cultural Brokers
Justine de Marrais, Sharon Touw, Linda L. Barnes
Little research has been done about the role of medical interpreters as cultural brokers - interpreters not only of language but also of cultural differences – or about the impact this role may have on the healthcare encounter. We designed this study to gain greater understanding of this particular role, conducting interviews with Boston-area pediatric healthcare providers and medical interpreters. Preliminary data analysis reveals that many medical interpreters function in a wider range of roles than anticipated, acting beyond the transmission of the linguistic and cultural message to also fulfill the needs of the Limited English Speaking population that might otherwise go unmet.
Our team has developed a number of resources for the BHLP website, including bibliographies and web-based references related to language and communication, interpreter services in a medical setting, and patient’s rights, as well as specific recommendations for providers about working with interpreters [soon to be available on the web]. We are currently drafting several articles for publication.
Muslims and Healing Projects
Lance D. Laird
Since 2004, Dr. Lance Laird has led our projects related to Muslims, medicine, and healing, as a Senior Consultant to the BHLP, and now as a Fellow in the Division of General Pediatrics at B.U. School of Medicine. In addition to a needs assessment among staff at Boston Medical Center for cultural competence training on caring for Muslim patients, and an ethnographic content analysis of how Muslims and Islam are portrayed in medical literature abstracts, Dr. Laird has three ethnographic projects underway at this time. Each of these three projects is examining how Muslims integrate Islam into healthcare decision-making
BHLP Mentored Projects
The BHLP also provides mentoring and seed money to fellows and faculty at BUSM working on projects with a significant religious dimension, including the following:
Somali Adolescent Mental Health Symptom Expression and Help Seeking Behavior
(Heidi Ellis PhD, Department of Psychiatry)
Understanding Vietnamese Women’s Expression of Maternal Depression: A Qualitative Study
(Emily Feinberg RN, PhD, Department of Pediatrics)
The Relationship between Parental Religion and Adolescent Risky Behaviors among Families with Different Educational and Racial/Ethnic Backgrounds
(Kay Rhee MD, MSc. Department of Pediatrics)
Offering “Las Dos Cosas”: A Study of Beliefs and Practices of Latina Women Regarding Exclusive Breastfeeding
(Ann Merewood MA, IBCLC, Department of Pediatrics).