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A manifesto. This is the best term to describe this text. One of its aims is to expose the theoretical foundations, which justify the application to a Western society of an "exotically-inspired" method in the field of the anthropology of illness. The presentation of first results, and their confrontation with researches from Africa in this field, is to establish a comparative study of representations of illness, which raises some fundamental questions in social and cultural anthropology. In France as in Africa, the way an individual interprets his illness reveals his relationships both with other people, including his near relatives and neighbours and those whom he regards as strangers, and with the society in which he lives. At the same time, the manner in which the individual experiences his illness, and the way in which he speaks of it, vary according to whether he belongs to a Western society of to an African lineage society. This book is the enlarged edition of a work first published in the Editions of EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), in 1989. Here it is followed by an "Aftermath" presenting a summary of the research subsequently carried out by the author, and a review of the principal orientation taken by Medical Anthropology in the last ten years.