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Elizabeth Turk, ‘Healing by the Nation’s Nature in Mongolia: Asian, Central European and Soviet Influences in Medical and Environmental History’

March 5, 2020 at 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

The Carolina Global and Transnational History Seminar is pleased to announce our next meeting, co-sponsored by the UNC Department of History and the UNC Center for European Studies.

Elizabeth Turk of the University of Cambridge and Columbia University, will speak on ‘Healing by the Nation’s Nature in Mongolia: Asian, Central European, and Soviet influences in Medical and Environmental History” on Thursday, March 5, 5:15-7:00 p.m., in the DeBerry Board Room, 3009 FedEx Global Education Center.

Turk’s talk will explore the constellation of historical influences that have shaped healing practices and conceptions of nature in contemporary Mongolia. While the historical legacy of Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine have shaped the ways Mongolians consider the balanced body in relation to (and the harnessing of) the natural environment, nature as a cosmological entity was deeply impacted by Soviet-era dual romanticist and utilitarian conceptions. Core components of the late 19th century central European life reform movement were integrated into Soviet medicine and balneological sciences of the early- to mid- 20th century, especially in sanatoria dispersed across urban and rural Mongolian settings. Important today for preventative, affordable and holistic care, a benevolent ‘mother Nature’ primed to heal the individual and ethno-national body represents a central way many Mongolians relate to nature.

Elizabeth Turk is an affiliated researcher in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. She is a lecturer and postdoctoral research scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, 2019-20. Her research focuses on nature-based and alternative medicine in contemporary Mongolia, exploring themes in both medical and environmental anthropology. She first began research in Mongolia in 2010 as a Fulbright Scholar exploring shamanic healing practices, specifically the connection between spiritual illness and the impending mining boom. Research interests since then have shifted towards a practice-focused approach to the study of healing, historicizing such practices as they have and continue to relate to political economy. Her book-in-progress explores the articulation of healing practices with nationalist and social progressivist discourses. Turk received her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 2017, her MA in sociocultural anthropology in 2013, and her BSc in women’s studies and general studies from the University of Michigan in 2007.

Paid parking is available below the building after 5 p.m.

Conveners: Cemil Aydin, Susan Pennybacker, and Zardas Shuk-man Lee

Please visit these guidelines for information on weeknight parking on campus.


FedEx Global Education Center, DeBerry Board Room 3009
301 Pittsboro St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516 United States