Indigenous populations, medicine and culture

Elena Puglisi


This article is based on research carried out between October and December 2009 in a private, non-profit clinic in Chiapas, Mexico and addresses the relationship between traditional medicine and the indigenous population. The author highlights cultural issues, such as the limitations of providing special health services for people identified as “indigenous” by the clinic staff according to their specific physical features, dress and language. According the author, such identity policies and the differentiation in the supply of medical services on an ethnic basis reproduce a dichotomous system of thought, characterized by the existence of indigenous and mestizos - understood as closed and arbitrary groups – thus legitimating their access or exclusion to specific health systems.


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