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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The politics of curanderismo: Santa Teresa Urrea, Don pedrito Jaramillo, and faith healing in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands at the turn of the twentieth century
by Seman, Jennifer Koshatka, Ph.D., Southern Methodist University, 2015, 303; 3739926
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation argues that in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands over the turn of the twentieth century, two curanderos, Teresa Urrea (1873-1906) and Pedro Jaramillo (1829-1907), created alternative projects of nation that did not come from above – from the state, the church, or professional medicine – but from below, from a distinct cultural practice that revitalized sick, racially oppressed, and subaltern bodies. The medicine that Urrea and Jaramillo practiced, curanderismo, was, and remains, a hybrid system of healing practiced throughout Mexico and Latin America and in places where ethnic Mexicans have a strong presence, such as the U.S-Mexico borderlands. Through curanderismo Urrea and Jaramillo provided culturally resonant healing and spiritual sustenance to ethnic Mexicans, Indians, Tejanos, and others in the borderlands who faced increasingly oppressive forms of state power deployed by both nations. This dissertation also shows that through their curanderismo practices and politics, Urrea and Jaramillo helped shape national ideologies as well as spiritual and medical practices. They participated in the creation and maintenance of transnational ethnic Mexican communities and identities in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

The chapters examine how Teresa Urrea and Pedro Jaramillo crossed the border from Mexico into the United States during the late nineteenth century and practiced what I call the “the politics of curanderismo ” in different regions of the borderlands. Chapter one examines Teresa Urrea’s identity as Juana de Arco Mexicana and how she was a threat to the Mexican government because of her work as a healer and advocate for Yaqui and Mayo Indians of northern Mexico in late nineteenth century. Chapter two utilizes a quantitative and qualitative analysis of Don Pedrito’s cures from 1890-1907, as well as an examination of South Texas demographics, to demonstrate that Jaramillo’s curanderismo drew upon available medical ideologies and strengthened his borderlands community while, at the same time, threatening professional medicine. The third chapter returns to Teresa Urrea and her residence in the city of Los Angeles, California from 1902-1903 and examines the transatlantic world of Spiritism and Spiritualism that she participated in. The fourth and final chapter explores the ways in which curanderismo and corresponding ideas about modernity, science, and spirituality figured into the power dynamics and construction of national identity on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border into the twentieth century.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Foley, Neil
Commitee: DeLuzio, Crista, Smith, Sherry L., Urrea, Luis A.
School: Southern Methodist University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: DAI-A 77/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history, Latin American Studies, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Borderlands, Curanderismo, Curandero, Faith healing, Pedro jaramillo, Teresa urrea
Publication Number: 3739926
ISBN: 978-1-339-31805-9
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