Contemporary perspectives on Vietnamese medicine among resettled Vietnamese refugees in Victoria, Canada




Ly, Jessica

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This thesis is a qualitative study of health practices of resettled Vietnamese refugees in Victoria, B.C. This thesis looks at the past and present sociocultural and political experiences of forced migration and resettlement which have influenced definitions, understandings and practices of medicine among refugees today. Previous studies of Vietnamese refugee groups have identified traditional Chinese medicine and biomedicine as complementary healing systems which are used. These studies report that Vietnamese refugee groups still experience sociocultural barriers to care after resettlement to their host country. This research found that resettled Vietnamese refugees in Victoria, B.C. still demonstrate a syncretic approach to medical practice which is also inclusive of traditional Vietnamese medicine (TVM). Using semi-structured interviews and participant observation methods to collect materials and gain a detailed understanding of how medicine is understood and used by resettled Vietnamese refugees, this study is based on interviews from a sample of 7 resettled Vietnamese refugees, six female and one male. I demonstrate that medicine is much more complex than simply practicing different forms of medicine. There are underlying sociocultural and political issues that continue to shape how medicine is defined and represented by resettled Vietnamese refugees today. This thesis identifies TVM as a recognized healing system and shows how perceptions of medicine and health have changed over the course of resettlement. Although forced migration and long term resettlement has resulted in the internalization of certain socio-cultural and political norms and expectations regarding medical practice, some of these changes have been beneficial for resettled Vietnamese refugees in Victoria, B.C.



Vietnamese refugees, Medicine, Resettlement, Forced migration, Victoria, B.C., British Columbia