The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Seminars, Symposia, and Academic Conferences

Friday, September 25 ~Sunday, September 27, 2015
How Do Biomedicines Shape Life, Sociality and Landscape in Africa?

  • Date: Friday, September 25 - Sunday, September 27, 2015
  • Venue:Conference Room 4, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
  • Inquiries: 10-1 Senri Expo Park, Suita, Osaka 565-8511, Japan
    Tel: +81-(0)6-6876-2151 / Fax: +81-(0)6-6878-7503
    e-mail: ahamada[at]
    *Please replace 'at' with @ and send.


Medical anthropologists have employed two images to understand biomedicine in Africa. Following the principle of medical pluralism, some regard biomedicines as islands. In this view, biomedicines are sharply distinguished from folk medicine; as separate entities, they interact with it and local culture itself. While biomedicines are found in local settings, they are treated as if they are outside the local culture. On the other hand, some medical anthropologists also explore the network-like features of biomedicines, especially how pharmaceuticals are distributed through complex local networks.

Recently, Ruth Prince and Wenzel Geissler developed another image of biomedicines in Africa: archipelagos (Prince 2012; Geissler 2014). According to them, biomedicines in Africa are not overarching and do not cover all the national territory. Instead, biomedicines in Africa are composed of many international projects which do not necessarily coordinate with each other but nonetheless connect to global, rather than local, networks. These projects not only provide medical services but also have many other effects.

For example, they can fuel people's expectations of development by providing employment opportunities and remaking the landscape. They can thereby lay waste to national health services by draining away their human resources. They can also provide an entry point to global networks (Prince 2014).

In this symposium, we will invite Prof. Ruth Prince and Prof. Wenzel Geissler to explore the present situation of biomedicines in Africa and how they affect people's everyday lives.



Day 1 (Friday September 25) PhD Workshop
16:30-16:40 Greetings
16:40-17:20 Manami Hayashi (Osaka University) "Transformation of Girls' Rites of Passage in Maasai Society in Kenya"
17:20-18:00 Tomoko Watanabe (Osaka University)  "The first clinic for the high-risk people of HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease in Uganda: Between Law and Rights"
Day2 (Saturday September 26)
10:30-10:40 "Welcome Address" Ken'ichi Sudo (National Museum of Ethnology)
10:40-10:50 "Opening Remarks" Akinori Hamada (National Museum of Ethnology)
Session 1: Chair: Mizuho Matsuo (National Museum of Ethnology)
10:50-11:40 "Local reactions to the prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act in a Kenyan pastoral community"
Kyoko Nakamura (Kyoto University)
11:40-12:30 "Disability and the Life Course among the Hunter-gatherers and Agriculturalists living in Cameroon"
Mikako Toda (National Museum of Ethnology)
12:30-14:00 Lunch Break
Session 2: Chair: Junko Iida (Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare)
14:00-14:50 "Patients Who Face Many Difficulties: A Case Study of a Community Based Organization for the Care and Treatment of Nodding Syndrome in Northern Uganda"
Kikuko Sakai (Kyoto University)
14:50-15:40 "Reconsidering Therapeutic Citizenship in the Era of Universal Treatment: (Dis)connectedness and (Non)transformation among the HIV-positive People in Ethiopia"
Makoto Nishi (Kyoto University)
15:40-16:00 Coffee Break
Session 3: Chair: Hidetoshi Kondo (Kansaigaidai University)
16:00-16:50 "A new politics of life?: Anthropological approaches to global health, humanitarianism and shiftinglandscapes of care in east Africa"
Ruth Prince (University of Oslo)
14:50-15:40 Comment: Akira Okazaki (The Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa)
17:00-17:15 Wrap-up discussion
Day3 (Sunday September 27)
Session 4: Chair: Mikako Toda (National Museum of Ethnology)
10:20-11:10 "Interference in a Milieu: On Multiple Governments of Multiple Actors around Tuberculosis Treatment Projects in Southern Ghana"
Akinori Hamada (National Museum of Ethonology)
11:10-12:00 "Biomedicine, Therapy Networks and Ethnicity in the Era of Global Health: Cases of Dealing with Malaria among the Egun people in Lagos State, Nigeria"
Takashi Tamai (Ritumeikan University)
12:00-13:00 Lunch Break
Session 5: Chair: Yousuke Shimazono (Osaka University)
13:00-13:50 "How EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) Spread and How People Respond: Socio-political Analysis of the Epidemic in Sierra Leone and Liberia"
Hideyuki Okano (Ritsumeikan University)
13:50-14:40 "Co-medicalization or Entrepreneurization?: The Case of Midwifery in Lagos, Nigeria"
Hidetoshi Kondo (Kansaigaidai University)
13:50-14:40 "Co-medicalization or Entrepreneurization?: The Case of Midwifery in Lagos, Nigeria"
Hidetoshi Kondo (Kansaigaidai University)
14:40-15:00 Coffee Break
Session 6: Chair: Gergely Mohacsi (Osaka University)
15:00-15:50 "Ethnography as Re-enactment: Performing Temporality in an East African Place of Science"
Wenzel Geissler (University of Oslo)
15:50-16:00 Comment: Naoki Kasuga (Hitotsubashi University)
16:00-16:30 Wrap-up Discussion