Spiritualists, witches and healers: healing in the gray areas of medicine


Listen to the recommendation of Ibero Martínez

Book card.

Healers, midwives, healers and doctors: The arts of healing in modern Argentina

Director: Diego Armas

Publisher: Economic Culture Fund

In 1925, the newspaper La Nación pointed out that Mother Mary “offered to everyone, rich and poor, what science cannot offer and religion refuses to give.” Although from the eighteenth century medicine began to define its object of study and sought to become official, it did not always succeed in displacing the arts of healing, practices and knowledge interested in providing some type of cure and care for people’s ailments. What happens when the institutions of the health system are insufficient or inaccessible, or when people mistrust them? What happens outside of those areas? What to do with ailments and illnesses against which certified medicine fails to articulate effective responses? Diego Armus brings together here a series of essays that show that those who practice the healing arts have participated for centuries in the therapeutic trajectories of rich and poor people, educated or not, powerful or powerless. It also evidences the enduring presence of these hybrids in the health care of vast sectors of Argentine society from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. It is about traditions and cultures of attention that are not static, but the result of very varied mixtures, exchanges and reinterpretations. Healers, midwives, healers and doctors shows that medicine and medicalization make up an uncertain, hesitant and constantly disputed terrain. Trying to heal and trying to heal have been, are and will continue to be endeavors marked by the most diverse offers of care.

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