Christopher C. Taylor
One of the core metaphors in Rwandan traditional medicine concerns the flow of bodily fluids. This metaphor is a recursive one, extending into other domains of Rwandan symbolic thought, including notions of the person, ritual, and myth. Stated briefly, this metaphor opposes states of orderly flows to disorderly ones, including blocked flows and excessive flows. The healthy body is characterized by sufficient but not excessive or inadequate bodily flows. Unhealthy or afflicted bodies are often characterized by disorders in “flow” states. After the genocide, many Tutsi victims experienced post-traumatic stress in the form of a specifically Rwandan symptom that they termed ihahamuka. This symptom, as described by Rwandans, involves the blockage of breath in the lungs. Many Rwandans who had suffered extreme trauma during the genocide, but had managed to survive, complained of ihahamuka. Many were highly “Westernized” in terms of their education and religion but were experiencing a disorder that can only be fully understood via traditional Rwandan medicine, a medicine in which they expressed very little credence.
John A. Grim
This article seeks to explore selected examples of diverse indigenous ways of knowing the world. It acknowledges differences not only among indigenous ways of knowing but also between indigenous knowledge and systems of knowing within industrial–technological societies. This latter difference is especially evident with regard to the presentation and organization of indigenous knowledge using the ideas and methods of Western, Enlightenment thought. Typically, indigenous ways of knowing are framed by such Western template ideas as monotheism, social contract theory, private property and individual rights, unilateral views of democratic governance, and scientific views of the objectivity of reality. The discussion considers the organic relationality of lifeway, land, and indigenous knowledge as mutually interactive processes. While differently described by diverse native peoples, indigenous ways of knowing are not simply about creating systems of knowledge; rather, they bring into possibility the lifeway itself.