Signs (Chic) 2011 ;36(2):319-26
University of Arkansas.
Tourists travel to Arkansas' mountain regions to experience, appreciate, and consume multiple aspects of otherness, including sacred sites and pristine and authentic peoples and environments. A largely unexplored aspect of this consumption of authenticity is alternative medicine, provided to tourists and day travelers in search of physical and emotional restoration. Traditional forms of medicine are deeply rooted in women's social roles as community healers in the region and are perpetuated in part because of the lack of readily accessible forms of so-called modern medicine. Contemporary medical tourism in Arkansas has promoted access to folk health systems, preserving them by incorporating them into tourists' health care services, and also has attracted new and dynamic alternative medical practices while encouraging the transformation of existing forms of traditional medicine. Ultimately, the blend of alternative, folk, and conventional medicine in the Arkansas highlands is evidence of globalizing forces at work in a regional culture. It also serves to highlight a renewed appreciation for the historic continuity and the efficacy of traditional knowledge in the upper South.