Folklore | Myth, Cosmos, and Healing in Latin America
F638 | 29221 | McDowell


In this seminar we explore systems of belief and practice implicated
in traditional healing rituals in several regions of Latin America.
This region of the world features indigenous native doctors of the
Andes, African folk religion as conserved and refined in such places
as Brazil and Cuba, as well as botánicas, santería, curanderos, and
many other practices and practitioners operating at the boundary of
medicine and religion. Our quest will be to assess the dynamic
interplay linking myth, cosmos, and healing in these systems -- to
see how ritual practices are grounded in mythic narratives and the
cosmologies they sustain, and how myth and cosmos are activated to
confer upon these practices an aura of coherency, legitimacy, and
authority. We will attend to the art, artifacts, music, ritual
speech, and other techniques of curing and healing, stressing their
connection to enabling mythologies and cosmologies. Lastly, we will
contemplate the probable fate of these traditional systems in this
twilight of modernity, as they seemingly expand their scope of
activity and yet are deeply transformed in the process.