'Doing' diabetes: a focus on local experience, medical knowledge systems and herbal management of Type 2 Diabetes among individuals in Genadendal, Western Cape
In South Africa 3.5 million people (estimated 6% of the total population) are diagnosed and living with diabetes. The majority of the diagnosed group suffer from Type 2 diabetes respectively. Described as a metabolic disorder, diabetes is also understood as an illness and disease and is usually handled through the intervention of biomedical perspectives, especially in the manner in which it is treated and managed. However, few ethnographies have interrogated how individuals living with diabetes in South Africa in negotiate between various medical/healing knowledge systems- both ‘alternative’ and biomedical. The study explores the area of Genadendal as a case study, using an ethnographic approach and a material semiotic approach (Mol, 2002) in relation to medical sense-making and treatments. I investigate the partial connections as discussed by Strathern (2004), between medical/healing knowledge systems, i.e. biomedical and herbal management through plant medicines, which inform diabetic realities. Ultimately, this study considers the various notions and understandings of diabetes, local knowledge, experiences of individuals with diabetes and the interfaces of different ways of knowing with each other.