African Research Review

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Epistemological tug of war, traditional medicine and the potential for modus vivendi in Ethiopia

Dejene Teshome Kibret


This study analysed the bench marks of regulatory framework of traditional medicine in Ethiopia and how it serves as an impediment to the fostering of indigenous medical knowledge. Data were collected through observation, unstructured and semi structured interviews from healers, their assistants, patients, pharmacists, and botanists. The findings of the study reveal that the procedure for certifying healers fails to consider the context of indigenous medical knowledge. There is a tendency to force indigenous medical knowledge to fit it into epistemological and methodological imports. The process results in epistemological tug of war. These aspects were explained by Santos’ (2007) metaphor of abyssal thinking. The study acknowledged the attempt to regulate traditional medicine in Ethiopia as a quest of good intent; however, it may produce disastrous long-term outcomes, unless it begins to involve an interdisciplinary understanding of the practice. Hence, the potential for modus vivendi is in sight if we draw on Green’s (2008) concept of knowledge diversity.

Keywords: Abyssal thinking, Epistemology, Ethiopia, indigenous knowledge, knowledge diversity
AJOL African Journals Online