El Curandero Actual: Preserving Indigenous Identity Through Mexican Folk Healing’s Chants
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Curanderismo is a syncretic form of Mexican folk healing whose origins date back to the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This medical system, drawing from both indigenous healing practices and Catholic spirituality, has been preserved throughout history by marginalized indigenous groups lacking access to biomedical healthcare. Today, variations of curandero practices are commonly practiced throughout Mexico as far south as the states of Oaxaca and Morelos and spanning far north, past the Rio Grande and even into Colorado. These practices coexist with modern biomedicine despite a long history of the repression of indigenous peoples by Europeans, and thus represent a reconciliation between these two cultures.This paper seeks to analyze the extent of the reconciliation between indigenous practices and Western Catholicism present in modern curandero practices. Specifically, this investigation will focus on the role of chants, prayer, and music used by modern curanderos as facilitators of healing. Likewise, it will examine the proper historical and cultural contexts of modern curandero movements which celebrate specific healers who have died but whose practices and methods have been preserved. Finally, this analysis will be tied with the resurgence of indigenous identity promoted by the indigenismo movement for social change and activism in Mexico.
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