Khoisan Medicine in History and Practice

Khoisan Medicine in History and Practice

Khoisan Medicine in History and Practice

ISBN 978-3-89645-148-4

Khoisan Medicine in History and Practice

Author: Chris Low. Series edited by: Rainer Voßen.

Series: QKF Research in Khoisan Studies Volume 20

338 pp.
Appendix: Map and Informants
Text language(s): English
Format: 160 x 240 mm
530 g
€ 69.80

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Throughout urban and rural communities of Namibia, Khoisan traditional healing is alive and well. This book, at its broadest level, explores the contemporary nature of Khoisan traditional medicine. It additionally examines what present Khoisan health strategies can tell us about those of the past. As indicated in the title, the author’s focus is principally on ideas and not practices, although the two clearly overlap. He has emphasised understanding over practice out of a perceived need to highlight, and to some extent attempt to redress, a very partial historical and contemporary literature on Khoisan healing.

The book draws upon a long history of traveller, settler, administrative, soldier, missionary and anthropological sources, from the initial settlement phase of the Cape in 1652 to the present. Through historical analysis of these sources and insights gained from eight months fieldwork amongst Khoisan, the author has sought to identify key factors in the contingent history that have led us to our present understanding of Khoisan healing.

Moreover, he has attempted to identify where weaknesses might lie in the Western understanding of Khoisan healing and to suggest how these weaknesses might be addressed.


Chapter 1: A Loaded Encounter

Chapter 2: Vested Interests – From Missionaries to Professional Anthropologists

Chapter 3: Kalahari Shamanism

Chapter 4: Damara and Hai||om Healers of Northern Namibia

Chapter 5: Ideas and Practice

Chapter 6: Conclusion

Appendix 1: Informants

Appendix 2: Map


This book is based on the revised and updated thesis of the author (University of Oxford/UK, D.Phil. thesis 2004).

About the author:

Chris Low, a postdoctorate at Oxford, holds an ESRC Research Fellowship and is currently involved with research on the changing relationships between animals, Bushmen, and Bushman medicine.

Under these links you will find further studies of traditional healing in Africa and Asia:

Accompanying material:


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