Towards a Cosmopolitan Ayurveda
Contributions of Women Ayurveda Physicians
Women's increasing presence in Ayurveda since the second half of twentieth century and their pursuit of a professional career as physicians are socially and historically significant events, considering the restrictions on their medical training and practice earlier. While the first talk focused on the conditions of entry of women into Ayurveda colleges, in this presentation I will focus on women's contribution to the field of Ayurveda as professionals and practitioners and will attempt to delineate their specific role in the major transformations. Based on interviews of women Ayurveda practitioners from diverse caste, class and religious backgrounds, with and without Ayurvedic family lineages, I will attempt to trace their diverse professional trajectories, and analyse their personal struggles and professional engagements that contributed to the consolidation of Ayurveda as a cosmopolitan medicine in the twentieth century Kerala. The presentation will locate the experiences of women practitioners in the broader context of gender asymmetry in medicine and in contemporary Kerala society. It will dwell on women's negotiations with the multiple and intersecting structures and ideologies of gender within family, community, educational institutions and workplaces, and draw implications for gender transformations in medicine and society.
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