Beyond Meaning: Globalization and the Icons of Power

Anthropol Med. 2007 Dec;14(3):307-20. doi: 10.1080/13648470701612661.


As the nature of symbolic mechanisms has been reconsidered, shared meaning in healing rituals can no longer be unproblematically assumed. Globalization processes challenge the idea of local worlds of meaning as foundational for healing. Discussing two episodes of healing in 'global assemblages', the paper questions the centrality of meaning in the healing encounter. In search for alternatives, it turns to the ethical phenomenology of Levinas. It is suggested that in the core of healing encounter lies 'the healing gesture' of the Other seen as an icon of power.