Panels, keynote speeches and workshops

Panels, keynote speeches and workshops will cover the following fields:

1. Encounters, Receptions, Transformations of Asian medicine in Western medical and academic contexts

Asian medicines have become the subjects of formal university degrees in Western medical schools, the social sciences and in the humanities. They are also positioned state legislation as cognate to alternative, folk and/or traditional Western medicines. We invite reflection on how Asian medicines have been positioned and understood within these contexts.

Questions to discuss:

  • Do the perceived similarities between traditional Asian and European medicines represent homologies between the systems, or are they a product of their common non-modernity, constructed out of common contestation with biomedical authority?

2. Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology and Clinical Studies: Multidisciplinary approaches. Improving the standard of clinical trials

Questions to discuss:

  • What have been the primary hindrances to good-quality clinical trials in the past, and what is changing?
  • How do economic and political factors, and the public reception of Asian medicine, impact on clinical trials?
  • Who have been the primary avenues for major studies?
  • How are they funded? Can IASTAM enhance communication across practitioner trial networks?
  • How can clinicians produce or participate in better trials, and can the space of the conference provide a network for better collaboration between scientific research organisations and clinical practitioners in such trials?


3. Policy, Economics, Global Health, Development

The rise of Asian medicine as a major economic force has drawn the attention of politicians and economists, who now seek to claim or defend against patent rights, to claim Intangible Heritage support from UNESCO, or to shore up political platforms based on post-colonial defences of indigeneity.

Questions to discuss:

  • Who is tracking the total world supply of Asian medicines (or is WHO tracking them?), and what are the major directions in which government health policy is moving? 
  • How can individual practitioners and their representative groups, anthropologists and trials researchers keep better track of and help to shape these changes in national and international health policy and regulation?

4. Botany and Conservation

The immense demand on drug supplies, resulting in conservation problems in certain regional and mountain areas, the increased knowledge of botanists both of substitution practices and of species which grow in different regions also opens up new necessities. Manuals for cultivation of Asian herbals are now being written in English for producers in America and Europe. The ongoing changes in the drug supply chain are not entirely about loss and degradation of Asian environments, but also about emerging new centres of production in the Western Hemisphere as well as in Asian contexts.

Questions to discuss:

  • How have restrictions on the use of drugs in Europe and the Americas affected the production of drugs in Asia?
  • How have prohibitions on traditional ingredients made from endangered species, or on mercury compounds and other substances regarded as poisonous or dangerous affected global usage and production, in Asia and elsewhere?
  • What is the current state of this flux, and what directions will it move in?

5. Ageing and Health Care

The dissonance between increasing longevity and the relatively small numbers of working young represents a new global challenge for medical care and their protagonists.

Academics and practitioners are invited to present integrated research papers and training sessions articulating the problems and opportunities in designing culturally adaptive intergenerational community care.

6. Translation of Asian medicine into English and other languages

Translation is much more than the creation of one-to-one semantic equivalencies, but involves processes of reconstructing entire meaning domains within the target culture.  Those meaning domains are not just textual, but emerge as institutions, clinical encounters, practice strategies and political contexts. Clinical, political and philological needs all exert pressures on the production of new translations of Asian medical theories and texts into English and other European languages. The call for standardization by WHO of Chinese medical terms, as well as the forthcoming 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD11) has led to multiple translation projects and schools of thought.  Similar processes taking place in relation to other Asian medicinal translations, such as Sowa Rigpa.

Questions to discuss

  •  What are the stakes, and who are at play in these complex negotiations of meaning, authority and efficacy?

7. Scholarship and Practice

Questions to discuss

  • How does history serve clinicians? 
  • How can historians learn from clinic experience to write better ethnographies and histories? 
  • This section considers the interface between history and practice, scholarship and clinical treatments. Can a better historical consciousness lead us to revise or refresh our perspectives in clinic? 
  • What questions do historians and clinicians have in common, and where do we talk past each other? 
  • How can we provide more fruitful exchange and co-produce better work?


8. Breath, Spirits, Meditation, Movement Practices

Religion, spirituality, meditation, qigong, yoga, and other practices fluidly form important aspects of Asian and traditional medicines. When they enter Western or modern biomedical contexts, they become reconfigured by notions like objectivity, rationality and empiricism, and are relegated to a problematic space.  Official bodies like the NIH adopt terms to describe Asian medicines as treating “mind, body and spirit,” while bodies like Quackwatch seek to invalidate all Asian medicines as disingenuous.  We invite papers in the section to reflect on the historical continuities between religious and medical practices, and their reconfigurations or resistances in biomodernity.

9. The Traditional Medicines of Central, West and Southeast Asia

IASTAM has been strongest in covering medical systems with robust textual histories from locales of Western European colonial contact.  However, those areas with more Soviet or Iranian influence have not been as well-covered.  We propose to forge ties within the vibrant intellectual communities in Berlin and wider Eastern Europe with strengths in Central Asian and Iranian medicines, and make special outreach to these groups.  We further wish to strengthen areas that are already active threads in ICTAM conferences and Asian Medicine articles before now.

10. Health Promotion through Yoga, Ayurveda and others

There is a worldwide growing activity in the field of health promotion influenced directly or indirectly by Yoga, Qi Gong, Ayurveda and others. Adult education/University Extension, Government organizations, Companies, etc. integrate concepts inspired by Asian medicine and their health promotion strategies.

More and more people are ready to do themselves something for their health. Practical evidence, interest of the people  and research shows that this will be a growing field in future. There where WHO initiatives to understand health in its biopsychosocial dimension (first definition 1946) and to create heath where people live, at the workplace, school, family (second WHO definition 1986, Ottawa Charta). After this the worldwide health promotion has developed much.

Since the UN declared in 2014 an International day of Yoga with the expectation of global health, Yoga has become an important role. Standards, quality insurance, education, concepts, research (esp. heartrate variability) are a huge field for papers. They can come from Health Sciences, Sports, Psychosomatic/Behavioural Medicine, Functional Anatomy, Yoga, Sociology, Neuroscience etc.

Impressions: Welcome to Kiel University!

Trailer ICTAM IX, 2017

  • Trailer for ICTAM - International Congress on Traditional Asian Medicines in Kiel, 06.-12.08. 2016 from Hannah Bittner on Vime