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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue
Title:Writing medical authority: the rise of literate healers in Ghana, 1930-70
Author:Osseo-Asare, Abena Dove
Periodical:The Journal of African History (ISSN 0021-8537)
Geographic term:Ghana
professional associations
medical history
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021853715000742
Abstract:For generations, healers sustained medical knowledge in African communities through oral communication. During the twentieth century, healers who learned to read and write used literacy as a vehicle for establishing medical authority. In particular, literate healers lobbied colonial and national governments for recognition, wrote medical guidebooks, advertised in African newspapers, and sent letters to other healers to organise their profession. This article examines the case of literate healers in colonial and postcolonial Ghana living near the twin port cities of Sekondi and Takoradi. There, an early organisation of 'Scientific African Herbalists' and later, the 'Ghana Psychic and Traditional Healing Association,' used literacy to reclaim the public's trust in their medical expertise. An examination of literacy shows historical avenues for professional formation and the continued quest for medical legitimacy and respectability. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]