Medical mimesis: Healing signs of a cosmopolitan "quack"

Jean M. Langford

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38 Scopus citations


Drawing on recent insights into mimesis, I address the question of authenticity in indigenous medicine through an ethnography of an Ayurvedic pulse reader. I trace the conflicting rhetorics of authenticity spun by the doctor, the colleagues who consider him a quack, and myself. Ultimately I question the rituals of signification by which distinctions are drawn between medicine and placebo, doctor and quack, expertise and gimmickry, and between authentic cultural object and consumer-oriented copy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-46
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Ayurveda
  • India
  • Medicine
  • Mimesis
  • Quackery
  • Semiotics


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