The interpretation of illness and its meaning to individuals and groups is largely a product of culture and is based on shared experience, historical significance, and the social function of individuals in the community. West Sumatra, like many parts of Indonesia, has experienced rapid development and modernization since the nation achieved independence in 1945 and is currently 10 years into Regional Autonomy, a dramatic shift in national administration from a highly centralized system to one which devolved authority to the level of district or municipal government. These changes have brought Indonesians into contact with an increasingly globalized culture and have put pressure on traditional institutions and practices. This is especially significant in the area of health, where considerable tension exists between the allopathic conceptualization of health (as espoused by health care professionals in the formal sector) and traditional interpretations of health that derive from a traditional cultural and linguistic frame of reference. This paper, based on fieldwork in the Indonesian region of Tanah Datar, West Sumatra, describes the impact of cultural and linguistic factors on the interpretation of illness among rural residents and elucidates the growing impact of multiple systems of meaning in local understanding of health.
|Keywords:||West Sumatra, Minangkabau, Conceptualization of Health|
Lecturer, State Islamic College, Batusangkar, Indonesia
Associate Professor in Indonesian, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
Lecturer in Public Health, School of Public Health, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia