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Throughout much of the modern era, faith healing received attention only when it came into conflict with biomedical practice. During the 1990s, however, American culture changed dramatically and religious healing became a commonplace feature of our society. Increasing numbers of mainstream churches and synagogues began to hold held healing services and healing circles. The use of complementary and alternative therapies-some connected with spiritual or religious traditions-became widespread, and the growing hospice movement drew attention to the spiritual aspects of medical care. At the same time, changes in immigration laws brought to the United States new cultural communities, each with their own approaches to healing. Cuban santeros, Haitian mambos and oungans, Cambodian Buddhist priests, Chinese herbalist-acupuncturists, and Hmong shamans are only a few of the newer types of American religious healers, often found practicing within blocks of prestigious biomedical institutions. This book offers a richly comprehensive collection of essays examining this new reality. It brings together, for the first time, scholars from a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives to explore the relatively uncharted field of religious healing as understood and practiced in diverse cultural communities in the United States. The book will be an invaluable resource for students of anthropology, religious studies, American studies, and ethnic studies, health care professionals, clergy, and anyone interested in the changing American cultural landscape.
Linda L. Barnes directs the Boston Healing Landscape Project, an institute for the study of religions, medicines, and healing, at Boston University School of Medicine, where she is on the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics. She is a historian, medical anthropologist, and religion scholar whose work bridges these disciplines. Susan S. Sered is the research director of the Religion, Health and Healing Initiative at Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religions, and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Bar Ilan University in Israel. Her work spans the fields of medical anthropology, religious studies, and gender studies. Sered's award-winning books include Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister: Religions Dominated by Women (OUP, 1994).