Gemma Smart, University of Sydney; Hung Tsung-Jen, The University of Sydney; Hans Pols, The University of Sydney;
To take care of their own health and those around them, many people in the world purchase medications or seek medical care of a variety of forms from pharmacists and other traders that do not involve prescriptions dispensed by physicians. Taking care of one's health and well-being includes substances and medications beyond biomedicine (i.e. vitamins) as well as engaging in various practices (i.e. yoga). However, current research still emphasizes institutionalized medical services provided by physicians; more inclusive approaches include formalized traditional medicine with prescription as well. Yet people who develop and practice self-care relying on various and disparate sources or seek healthcare outside of these settings are less frequently investigated-even though those self-care practices are far more prevalent.
In this open panel, we aim to transcend various distinctions such as orthodox vs. alternative medicines; pharmaceutical products vs. patent medicine; and 'fake' versus 'real' medicine. Opening the field in this way offers opportunities for exploring patient agency, solidarity, and liberation from power structures; but it also presents us with examples of perilous elements driven by politics, the economic power of industry, and the sometimes dubious motivations of individuals. Lévi-Strauss' framework of bricolage  offers the capacity to handle the nuance presented in sites of healing. This panel aims to explore both the risks and opportunities presented by this research.
 Levi-Strauss, C. (1968). The savage mind. University of Chicago Press.
Keywords: Controversies, Forms and Practices of Expertise, Medicine and Healthcare, patient agency, Traditional Chinese Medicine,Traditional Medicine, jamu, self-help, alternative medicine, complementary medicine, vernacular medicine, biomedicine, bricolage, consumer, survivor, ex-patient, yoga, vitamins, peer support, off-label use