Friday, June 7, 2019 • 10:30 am
Plenary Address: Medicine and the Modern Amish
Martha King, PhD
Many people are surprised to see photos of a horse and buggy parked outside a groundbreaking medical clinic operating on the forefront of today's genomic revolution. To neighbors and locals around Lancaster County, this scene may not seem so jarring. Those neighbors know that the same team will be parked later outside of a local chiropractor or in the unmarked driveway of a popular herbalist. Amish in the Lancaster area interact with medicine using a unique pluralistic healthcare system, and utilizing this approach to the body results in a constant calculus around which kind of medicine may be the most suitable. This talk will look at this medical decision-making and the necessary negotiations around various technologies inherent in making these kinds of healthcare choices. Indeed, normative health practices and the suitability of health technologies are intensely impacted by the cultural practices inside and between church districts. Shining a light on the interactions between Amish community members and the various healthcare outlets they employ can illuminate new lessons about the ways Amish balance practices that seem so contradictory to outsiders.
Martha King is a teaching assistant professor in the anthropology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A scholar and teacher working on the intersections of belief systems, expressive culture, rural communities, healthcare, and the body, King holds an MA in folklore and a PhD in anthropology from UNC Chapel Hill. Her current research considers the bodily care employed by the Amish and their relationships with biomedicine. King has also worked in areas including representation in ethnographic research, social issues of returning genetic data in sick populations, the production of knowledge in medical genetics, and rural folk practices in the American South.