Surely, I aim to please.
What I don't know about medical anthropology in Peru could fill a book. What I do know will fill one blog entry. This is only a rough guide to help you get started in your research. It depends on what level you're looking for, whether this is a term paper, a master's thesis, or doctoral dissertation as to how much this guide will actually help you. Here goes!
Medical Anthropology in PeruFirst off, it's better that you search on the Google Peru site rather than the American one to hone your search results. And that you type your search in Spanish. Peruvian anthropologists call medical anthropology by two names: antropología médica and antropología de la salud (anthropology of health). If you need to, you can use Google Translate to translate the websites from Spanish to English, or what have you.
In Peru, there are medical anthropologists out there, though medical anthropology as a sub-sub-discipline within anthropology does not appear to be a popular one. I came across a blog the other day in my own search announcing the recent formation of a committee of medical anthropologists.
The one medical anthropologist who I'm familiar with in this group is Carmen Yon. She taught an acquaintance in his undergrad program. She wrote this very interesting piece on reproductive health, multiculturalism, and citizenship, which is a topic that gets a lot of attention internationally from international health agencies to politicians to academics.
At least one university in Lima offers a medical anthropology class, Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú, or as people say in English, Catholic University, as part of the MA in Anthropology with an Andean studies concentration. You can read the class description here.
Occasionally, medical anthropology forums are hosted in Lima. There was one on Peruvian traditional medicine from an anthropological perspective held in November 2011. To be honest, I don't know how to stay on top of these forums, as I tend to find them after the fact rather than than before, which totally doesn't help! I'm sure being affiliated with a university, especially Catholic University, is most helpful. Also, just adding blogs to your RSS feed and finding affiliated groups on Facebook to keep up on events are good ideas.
Medical Anthropological Research
|Bulls of fertility atop a house in the Sacred Valley. Why?|
You'd have to take a look at Peru's chaotic history from the time before the Incas conquered Peru. All of this plays a major role even today in Peruvian health.
You'd have to understand the ethnic makeup of Peruvians. You'd have to learn how coastal Peru is different from the Peru of the sierra and the selva regions. Not only must you look at the history and ethnic backgrounds, which go hand in hand through immigration and migration movements, but also economy, politic, environment, kinship, gender, religion, social structure, education, and everything else that completes a true ethnography of Peru.
Peruvian anthropology focuses a great deal on the Quechua and Aymara who live mainly in the Andes, or sierra, region, as well as the jungle tribes of the Amazon. There is some anthropological research conducted in urban areas, especially Lima and the coast. What most interests you about Peru? What part of Peru? What peoples?
And what about these peoples view of health intrigues you the most?
The Three PerspectivesThen you have to look at the three perspectives within medical anthropology. Which one is your preferred perspective?
- Critical medical anthropology
Will these factors influence views of health? I'll go ahead and answer that for you. Undoubtedly, yes.
|A view of the Urubamba River from atop|
Machu Piccu. Some people take baths and wash
their clothes in this river. Why?
Peru is a hotbed of parasites. Turns out that a certain parasite common in Peru enters through the feet. Is that a possible reason for people to always wear shoes or slippers? What other environmental and/or ecological reasons may there be?
CulturalFrom the cultural perspective, what are Limenean conceptions of being barefoot? How did these conceptions develop? You're looking to develop the explanatory model of being barefoot.
At this point you should, from your ethnographic research, recognize that Lima has an interesting ethnic makeup with distinct social class, economic, and education levels. There are Limeneans in the upper social class whose colonial-era ancestors were part of the social elite of Spain and France. These people live in the more exclusive neighborhoods of San Isidro, Miraflores, parts of San Borja, Chacarilla, and La Molina, and may own a beach house or country home. There are Limeneans whose parents or grandparents migrated from the provinces to live in the lower income areas of the city. Then there are Chinese and Japanese immigrants, as well as immigrants from other South American countries, particularly Chile and Bolivia. What kind of work do these people do? What are the education levels? What is the family structure?
Within the cultural perspective, there are three fields that often intersect in health care:
|The market in Salamanca, Lima on New Year's Eve. |
I was told to never eat fruit from the market in the
Critical medical anthropologyLast, but not least, you have the critical medical anthropological perspective, which takes another route to uncover the reasons behind not walking around barefoot. You must look critically at the political-economy of Peru to develop a theory.
ReferencesSee my list of recommended medical anthropological readings in the GoodReads widget to the right.
Contact a Medical AnthropologistLater this year I'll be back in Lima to conduct my own research. In the meantime, if you need some help or just want someone to bounce ideas off of, by all means, contact me. Leave a comment below, and I'll get back to you right away.