Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Karen Brison




biomedicine, fijians, americans, feel, follow


Both indigenous Fijians and Americans practice a medically pluralistic style of healing that includes biomedicine, herbal medicines, and spiritual healing. People in both cultures use alternative medicinal styles to fill in around gaps left by biomedicine, but the reasons why they do this, and how they do this, are different. Urban indigenous Fijians supplement biomedicine with healing styles that utilize their social networks. Fijians have a sociocentric sense of self and the body; they feel uncomfortable with impersonal treatment by doctors and feel better about treatments that bring social support. Americans, on the other hand, follow a rhetoric strongly oriented towards individual responsibility. They follow this not only in their biomedical care, but also in their alternative medicine practices, ‘building up the body’ so as to feel in control of their health. Ultimately, while both Fijians and Americans have similar problems with biomedicine lack of personalization, bad side effects, the power to harm rather than heal they have found divergent ways of dealing with these issues that follow their cultural background. This suggests that in attempting to improve biomedical care around the world, there might not be a one-size-fits-all solution.