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The Political Uses of Maya Medicine: Civil Organizations in Chiapas and the Ventriloquism Effect

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Abstract:

This article focuses on the internal operations of civil society organizations working among the indigenous population of Chiapas. The growth of non-governmental organizations in this area over the last few decades has reinforced the fabric of civil society. Yet at the same time, certain groups make uncivil use of civil society structures, preventing the effective representation of indigenous populations. Comparing three organizations of indigenous doctors, I examine the complex relations that arise between indigenous members and non-indigenous 'advisers'. In particular, I look to the ways that external advisers define indigenous interests and the concept of Indianness in pursuit of their own political agendas.

Keywords: CHIAPAS; CIVIL SOCIETY; INDIGENOUS DOCTORS; MAYA MEDICINE; MEXICO; NGOS; SHAMANS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/sa.2007.510210

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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  • Social Analysis has long been at the forefront of anthropology's engagement with the humanities and other social sciences. In forming a critical, concerned, and empirical perspective, it encourages contributions that break away from the disciplinary bounds of anthropology and suggest innovative ways of challenging hegemonic paradigms through 'grounded theory', analysis based in original empirical research. The journal invites contributions directed toward a critical and theoretical understanding of cultural, political, and social processes, as well as the work of active ethnographic researchers who study the forces involved in the production of human suffering, poverty, prejudice, war, and violence.
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