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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, Mexican Folk Healing
Program #

Folklore, Health
Linda Fregoso
Bernardo Ortiz, Dolores Estrella, Juan Chavira
Nov 27, 1981

Curanderismo, Mexican folk healing

Host Rosa Linda Fregoso explores the traditions of Curanderismo, or folk healing, within the Chicano community, and discusses its origins and scientific and spiritual basis with Dolores Estrella, a curandera, and with anthropologist Dr. Bernardo Ortiz de Montellano and psychologist Dr. Juan Chavira. Curanderas rely on a knowledge of herbs and rituals that blends ancient European and Spanish practices. Ortiz explains that while many academics believe curanderismo is based on superstition, the remedies are actually rooted in a very sophisticated understanding of botany. He explains that several recent scientific studies have proven that certain herbs do have the medicinal properties curanderos claim. He also discusses Aztec understandings of disease and cures. After the conquest, Europeans tried to suppress Aztec medicine because it was tied to religious ritual, and Ortiz explains some of the ways Aztec managed to preserve their knowledge. He also argues that in some parts of Mexico folk healing is the only form of health care available.

Fregoso then speaks with Chavira, a psychologist, who explains that a wide cross-section of Chicano society depends on curanderas for health care, especially those who cannot afford to see a doctor. Curanderismo is a form of traditional medicine that is rooted in the community and its resources and beliefs. Chavira argues that it treats both the spiritual and physical manifestations of illness. He then discusses how curanderas learn their craft. Fregoso then talks with Estrella who learned about healing from her grandmother. Chavira then explains some of the ways to distinguish between reputable and disreputable curanderas.


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

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