Workshop Report: Sacred Cures – Situating Medicine and Religion Across Asia

This announcement first appeared in the IASTAM newsletter:

Workshop Report
Sacred Cures – Situating Medicine and Religion Across Asia
(Max Planck Institute for the History of Knowledge, May 2-4)

This workshop, co-organised by council members Michael Stanley-Baker and Pierce Salgeuro, brought together specialists in the intersection of religion and medicine in the Himalayas and East, South, and Southeast Asia. All together, they examined what work has been done by the terms medicine/religion, or related binaries such as medicine/healing or classical/vernacular. What is clarified or distorted when these categories are mapped onto other languages, periods and regions? They explored commonalities across regions and across time, working from the classical to the contemporary. How do scholars and cultural actors alike produce “medicine” and “religion” as fields and as methods? Taking stock of recent gains in the field, they discussed remaining areas for study, and compared and refined the tools and terms that might be used in that endeavour.

Papers were pre-circulated, and no presentations were made in the workshop. Participants were invited to address the following areas:

  1. Historiography: How has the religion/medicine question been framed by different academic communities?
  2. Materials: What primary sources or archives are available for the given historical periods and/or cultural contexts, and how these afford different kinds of analysis of the question?
  3. Means: What moments, encounters, processes, practices, and relationships produce or reveal significant (re)structurings of medicine and religion?

Many of the panellists are long-standing IASTAM members, and the forthcoming edited volume will be published with IASTAM members in mind.


  • Pre-Modern/Classical-Medieval: Donald Harper, Vivienne Lo, Katja Triplett, Michael Slouber, Tu Aming & Joey Hung,
  • Early Modern: Projit Mukharji, Katharina Saberning, Leslie DeVries, Angelika Messner
  • Modern/Contemporary: Helen Lambert, Celine Coderey, Elisabeth Hsu, Geoffrey Samuels, Mona Schrempf
  • Closing remarks: Judith Farquhar & Kenneth Zysk

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