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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The sixth sun: The spiritual path and practice of Mexican-American curanderismo
by Joyce, Anna, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2011, 483; 3489676
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the Mexican-American healing tradition known as curanderismo, an ancient yet dynamic and evolving, syncretic system, which maintains elements of the indigenous, earth-based cosmovision that existed in Mexico prior to the arrival of the conquistadores , while continuing to absorb new influences. The study explores the more expansive role that curanderismo, “the art of healing,” plays in the lives of contemporary Mexican-American practitioners as a cohesive spiritual path, closely attuned to Nature as a source of Sacred Presence, with values rooted in an ancient worldview of the Mesoamerican cosmovision.

Curanderismo has been studied from the perspective of medical anthropology as “folk medicine” and from psychological and sociological vantage points as complementary or integrative medicine or “folk belief.” With the exception of several autobiographical works which touch on a personal journey in curanderismo, no comprehensive work has been done to date, depicting curanderismo as a spiritual path and way of life.

This project discusses the belief system underlying curanderismo and places contemporary healers who embrace curanderismo within a spiritual orientation that supports a deeper and more direct connection to the earth and indigenous traditions of healing; to the spiritual values of humility, loving kindness, and service; and to an embodied knowledge of spiritual realities.

Methodology includes participant observation at a University of New Mexico course entitled Traditional Medicine Without Borders during the summers of 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011, and in-depth ethnographic interviews with six curanderas from Albuquerque who were presenters at the class. My study in New Mexico provided a context for approaching this tradition and a broad understanding of its contemporary components as well as an opportunity to observe the work of Mexican and New Mexican curandera/os. The heart of the dissertation also draws upon my participant observation with a Sacramento based community of curandera/os with whom I attended workshops, ceremonial events, community projects, and healing events from 2008 until the present. In addition to participant observation in this community and the deep friendships I formed with the women curanderas, I conducted seven in-depth ethnographic interviews with practitioners from this community.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Keller, Mara Lynn
Commitee: Razak, Arisika, Torres, Eliseo
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Humanities with a concentration in Philosophy and Religion and an emphasis in Women.s Spirituality
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Folklore, Womens studies, Alternative Medicine, Spirituality
Keywords: Chicano, Curanderismo, Healers, Healers' spiritual beliefs, Hispanic, Latinos and Latinas, Mesoamerican cosmology, Mexican-American, Spiritual beliefs, Traditional medicine
Publication Number: 3489676
ISBN: 978-1-267-09079-9
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