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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Curanderismo: The Traditional Medicine Of The Mexican American Community
Program #
Culture, Society

Folklore, Health
Alejandro Saenz
Juan Chavira
Mar 1, 1977

Curanderismo: the traditional medicine of the Mexican American community

Dr. Juan Chavira discusses the practice, belief and theory of curanderismo. He first explains Curanderismo as a body of knowledge, that connects to health and the maintenance of health. He claims that curanderos emerged during the last century when Mexican Americans were excluded from access to modern health care through isolation and outright discrimination. Curanderismo is intimately tied to the culture and history of Mexican Americans and is part of the current cultural revolution. Like modern medicine, Chavira explains that curanderos, or healers, also have specialties within which they work, such as the use of herbs, or working with marital problems. He highlights the difficulty in licensing people who take up an un-official popular medical tradition.

While Mexican-Americans have been exposed to folk medicine from an earlier age, Chavira believes it is hard to say just how pervasive curanderismo is because it is so hard to define, and the variety of people who use curanderos. Curanderos strive to treat the entire person and their relationship with the environment. To do this, Curanderos perform several procedures including barridas, in which they sweep an egg or herb over a body and chant a prayer to reshuffle a person’s energy field. Chavira also explains the theory behind curanderismo and as an example describes how people transmit mal de ojo and how to cure it.

Dr. Juan Chavira; Dept. of Behavioral Sciences, Pan American Univ.; Edinburg, Texas


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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