By Suzanne Crawford O'Brien
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Additional resources for Coming Full Circle: Spirituality and Wellness among Native Communities in the Pacific Northwest
Chapter 4 explores the history of religious change among Coast Salish communities from 1800 until the 1970s. I argue that while religious and healing traditions transformed over time, many of the central philosophical foundations and understandings of what it means to be a whole and healthy self remained very much the same. Chapters 5 and 6 present two contemporary case studies that illustrate this point: the Women’s Wellness Program at spipa and the story of the Shoalwater Bay tribal community.
4 A Middle Way: Symbols with Consequences, Bodies with Agency There are two important and interrelated issues here. The ﬁrst concerns whether or not critical reﬂection upon why and how we think about the body as we do can be done without losing track of the body as a physical, material reality. The second is whether or not one can deconstruct the self, and its attendant personal and political identities, without stripping groups and individuals of the power to deﬁne themselves and so mobilize for change.
8 Part One As the dissection of cadavers came to be the source of information about living bodies, western medicine was fundamentally altered. ¹5 This view is useful when reﬂecting on the imposition of biomedicine on colonized peoples. Biomedicine was seen by colonial authorities as the only rational way to approach healing, a perspective entirely overlooking the fact that biomedicine itself was the product of a particular cultural moment. ¹6 This idea of the cultural construction of the body has been instrumental in challenging race- and gender-based biological determinism.