Involuntary Childlessness in Nepal: Instances of Competition, Contestations, and Conflicts, among the Plural Healing Practices and Healing Journeys
This paper is a part of an ongoing PhD project that seeks to fill the gap that exists in the current scholarship on infertility, which is heavily skewed toward female infertility and biomedical interventions. The major objective of the project is to understand how different healing practices that exist in the medically plural landscape in Nepal shape the experience of involuntarily childless men. This will be done partly by investigating the nature of the competition, contestation, conflict, appropriation, and entanglement between different treatment and coping possibilities for infertility found in Nepal (biomedical, ritual and non-biomedical) and understanding how Nepali men coping with infertility negotiate between various options of healing practices they encounter in their therapeutic quest.
However, for the purpose of this paper, I will engage with the objective by limiting myself to the data I have gathered from: i) an ethnographic study (non-participant observation), since October 2016, of an infertility clinic in Kathmandu and interviews (semi-structured questions and informal discussions) with the patients (both male and female), doctors, and the staff in the clinic; ii) an interview with a healer who offers Astrology, Ayurveda, and Tantra healing services; iii) interviews with two men I met through snowball sampling method. With the few ethnographic narratives from my data, I aim to illustrate the ways in which various healing strategies for infertility found in Nepal compete, contest and come in conflict with each other. The theoretical framework of medical pluralism in Asian medical systems (Leslie 1976, 1980; Sujatha and Abraham 2012; Naraindas, 2006; Naraindas, Quack and Sax 2014) and Pigg’s work on the “questions of the villager’s belief” (1996) will allow me to analyze and comprehend the asymmetrical relationship between plural healing options pursued by the Nepali men coping with infertility.