Shortlisted entries 2012
10. The Medicine is in my Hands
Bryn Trevelyan James
Making medicine the West African way is a long, physical process. The adjoining image shows residues of barks first charred, then ground in preparation of a stroke remedy. We see the medicine man’s classic tools: grinding stone, clay cooking pot, and calloused hands skilled through years of practice. My research with indigenous healers operating in Ghana’s capital Accra focuses upon the substances, objects, beliefs, and performances brought together in producing such traditional treatments central to healthcare in poorer communities. An archaeologist by training, the projects’ overarching aim is engagement with local specialists’ ancestral herbal knowledge in order to better interpret evidence for maintenance of well-being in the past. In our rapidly modernising world sons are less inclined to get their hands dirty mastering the craft of their fathers, so documenting inherited folk medicines now preserves valuable information on curative plants and techniques which may otherwise be lost within a generation.