Healing Body and Soul in Labrador: The Practice of Medicine by Early Moravian Missionaries

This article considers sickness and health within the context of intercultural encounter. The focus is on Moravian medical practitioners and the cure of diseases in eighteenth-century Labrador. Data is taken from the earliest Nain diaries, additional Moravian manuscripts, and ethnographic studies. A...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Journal of Moravian history
Main Author: Olsthoorn, Thea 1952-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2019]
In:Journal of Moravian history
Year: 2019, Volume: 19, Issue: 2, Pages: 156-180
Further subjects:B Inuit
B Moravians
B Healing
B Labrador
Online Access: Verlag
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Description
Summary:This article considers sickness and health within the context of intercultural encounter. The focus is on Moravian medical practitioners and the cure of diseases in eighteenth-century Labrador. Data is taken from the earliest Nain diaries, additional Moravian manuscripts, and ethnographic studies. An examination of Moravian healing techniques and their appreciation by the indigenous population shows that Inuit judged the missionaries' practices in accordance with their own beliefs and incorporated them into their traditional healing system. Pietists' holistic methods, which included the treatment of the patient's soul together with his body, corresponded with the Inuit's conviction that most physical ailments arose from a moral cause (violation of taboo). Despite the Moravians' hope of the persuasiveness of their cures, the success of their medical procedures—invariably attributed to the healing force of the Savior—did not convince Inuit to abandon their allegiance to the spirits and convert to Christianity. They continued to call on the angakkuit (shamans) for help and followed their instructions alongside of the brethren's medical treatments. The consulted primary sources also suggest that shamans only resorted to the missionaries' cures in life-threatening situations.
ISSN:2161-6310
Contains:Enthalten in: Journal of Moravian history
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.5325/jmorahist.19.2.0156