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Tanja Bukovčan

In this paper I explore the link between research into contemporary alternative medical practices (CAM) and activism. It is based on my recent research (2004-2007) which dealt with the interrelatedness and coexistence of biomedical and non-biomedical systems in the city of Zagreb. The process of adoption and introduction of CAM to Western European countries started some twenty years ago and in Zagreb the process was evident after the fall of communism. My research started with patients and their attitudes towards illness, health, well-being and suffering, factors that determined their choice of therapies and healers. However, hearing stories of people's experiences of CAM propelled me into the role of therapist as listener and, through attending to the silence surrounding the use of CAM in a relatively hostile society, the role of anthropologist as activist. Through the process of understanding and interpreting sensitive cultural practices, I explore whether anthropologists are uniquely placed to actively protect the rights of people to whom they owe their science.