The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange

David Baronov
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-916-3
Publication: Oct 10

HC: $66.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-915-6
Publication: Sep 08

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-917-0
Publication: Sep 08

264 pages
6 x 9

How Western medicine has transformed—and been transformed by—African culture

Read Chapter 1 (pdf).


Beginning with the colonial era, Western biomedicine has radically transformed African medical beliefs and practices. Conversely, in using Western biomedicine, Africans have also transformed it. The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange contends that contemporary African medical systems—no less “biomedical” than Western medicine—in fact greatly enrich and expand the notion of biomedicine, reframing it as a global cultural form deployed across global networks of cultural exchange.

The book analyzes biomedicine as a complex and dynamic sociocultural form, the conceptual premises of which make it necessarily subject to ongoing change and development as it travels the globe. David Baronov captures the complexities of this cultural exchange by using world-systems analysis in a way that places global cultural processes on equal footing with political and economic processes. In doing so, he both allows the story of Africa’s transformation of “Western” biomedicine to be told and offers new insights into the capitalist world system.


"David Baronov has not hesitated to tread where few would dare. His study of African biomedicine is a unique application of the world-systems perspective to an area that has not heretofore been an object of the perspective's analytical lens."
Roderick Bush, St. John's University

"This well-researched and well-written book brings fresh perspectives on Western medicine in Africa and the development of African biomedicine."

"The thesis of this book is intriguing..... I urge sociologists...particularly those for whom the interpretation of African bio-medicine in terms of world-systems theory will be exciting, to read this book."
Contemporary Sociology

"The African Transformation of Western Medicine and the Dynamics of Global Cultural Exchange is essentially a delightful exploration of the contributions of African medicine in a fresh new perspective. It makes an outstanding contribution to the emerging field of cultural studies within world systems analysis."
The Journal of World-Systems Research

"(Baronov) does a good job addressing how the colonial and post-colonial African context affected the role of biomedicine on the continent."
African Studies Quarterly

"David Baronov has published a book whose subject matter should appeal to Africanists in a number of different ways."
African Studies

"Baronov's book is an adept work of synthesis and theory, analyzing African biomedicine through a broad reading of the history, anthropology, geography, political science, and sociology of health and illness in Africa. Extending world-systems analysis to encompass biomedicine as a cultural form, and employing a longue duree framing, Baronov offers a compelling portrait of African biomedicine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."
International Journal of African Historical Studies

Table of Contents


1. The Origins of African Biomedicine
2. Dissecting Western Medicine
3. Biomedicine's Civilizing Mission
4. African Pluralistic Medicine and Its Biomedical Antecedents
5. African Biomedicine


About the Author(s)

David Baronov is an Associate Professor of Sociology at St. John Fisher College and is also the author of The Abolition of Slavery in Brazil: The "Liberation" of Africans Through the Emancipation of Capital and Conceptual Foundations of Social Research Methods.