Drawing from qualitative insights gathered during anthropological in-person data collection during February 2020 to late March 2020, this talk explores the different relationalities and rationalities expressed by groups living in Siem Reap Province regarding preventing or treating COVID-19 symptoms with either biomedicine, traditional, and/or folk medicine. It considers the localized designations, hierarchies, and priorities of which individual, or combination, of medical systems are best suited to handle illnesses overall, as well as during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a glimpse into how the medical pluralism of the Cambodian healthcare landscape manifests in individual care-seeking and health decisions, and considers how these tensions can be mobilized to expand care as opposed to generating further divisions.
Speaker: Dr. Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam (they/them) is a medical anthropologist, ethnobotanist, and food writer based in The Netherlands. They are a Lecturer in Global Health within the Department of Health, Ethics, and Society (HES) at Maastricht University. Their research straddles the realms of nutrition, ethnobotany, food studies, Asian studies, biodiversity conservation, and traditional and complementary medicine. They were a CKS Dissertation Research Fellow during 2020, where they conducted fieldwork towards their study entitled “SeasonalHabitus, Healing Commensality, and Maternal Consumption in rural Siem Reap Province, Cambodia”.
Moderator: George Chigas is an Associate Teaching Professor Emeritus in Cambodian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he taught courses in Cambodian literature and cultural history. Prior to coming to UMass Lowell in 2004, he was the Associate Director at the Cambodian Genocide Program at Yale University. He earned his doctorate in Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London and his masters in Asian Studies from Cornell University. He is the author of Tum Teav, A Translation and Literary Analysis of a Cambodian Classic. He currently lives in Siem Reap, Cambodia.