The article deals with the processes of globalisation and glocalisation, i.e. adaptation of global ideas and emergence of their local forms, with reference to biomedicine in Central Asia, particularly in Kazakhstan. The author analyses the problems of penetration and adaptation of Western medicine in Central Asia from the historical perspective, using written sources. While presenting contemporary glocalisation of biomedicine, she relates to her long time field research conducted in Kazakhstan in the second part of the 1990s. The expansion of Western medicine in Central Asia is connected with the conquest of these lands by Tsarist Russia. This period was characterised by the lack of a clear border between biomedicine and traditional medicine - the former adapted to a large extent to the local conditions. It was not a strong rival to the traditional forms of healing, which still satisfied most of the health needs of the population. On the other hand in the first period of Soviet rule very strong propaganda was directed against traditional medicine as based on superstitions, reactionary, and opposing progress. Nevertheless, biomedicine adapted to the local socio-cultural conditions, also in the Soviet period. The trends to bring together biomedicine and different unconventional therapies intensified particularly when Kazakhstan and other states in the region gained their independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. Some unconventional methods were incorporated into biomedicine (e.g. acupuncture or manual therapies), others, especially those originating from Kazakh folk medicine, were recognised and recommended by the state as good supplement to biomedicine. The author analyses these processes, drawing attention to the close relation between the growing importance of complementary medicine and the political and socio-cultural situation of that period.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.