Beyond Biomedicine: Traditional medicine as cultural heritage

Alex Riordan, John Schofield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past decade, intangible cultural heritage (hereafter, ICH), the significance which it possesses and the continuation of its myriad manifestations have reached unprecedented levels of recognition and attention on international and national policy agendas. Traditional Medicine (hereafter, TM) has long been included under the vast umbrella of ICH, yet there have been few attempts to explore that relationship. This paper examines the practical implications of applying the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage to TM, alongside the relationship of traditional medicine to the fields of human rights, public health and development. It considers, and reaches the conclusion that the cultural significance of traditional medicine combined with the fundamental principles of the Convention render the Convention significant in safeguarding traditional medicine for the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-299
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Traditional medicine
  • Intangible cultural heritage
  • UNESCO convention for the safeguarding of intangible heritage
  • South Africa

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