The Biopolitics of Complementary Spiritual Healing in South Korea and Israel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter analyses three aspects of spiritual healing in Korea and Israel: the cosmological perspectives on illness, the roles of healers and patients in the treatment, and how spiritual healers and modern doctors view each other. Comparing spiritual folk medicine in a strictly monotheistic society and a multi-religious polytheistic culture reveals that the tensions between modern medicine and spiritual healing relate in both cultures mostly to biopolitics. Institutional concerns and the regulation of bodies and health are more central than religious supernatural concerns. The contradiction between scientific and vernacular medicine does not exist in the worldview of the interviewed healers. They are legitimized at the grassroots level and enjoy the cultural and financial support of many patients in the hypermodern urban centres where they live and work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Legitimacy of Healthcare and Public Health
Subtitle of host publicationAnthropological Perspectives
EditorsItalo Pardo, Giuliana B. Prato
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783031255922
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology


  • Spiritual healing
  • Biopolitics
  • South Korea
  • Shamans
  • Israel
  • Rabbis


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