Sana sana colita de rana: Mexican folk healing beliefs and practices among second-generation Mexican American millennials
Curanderismo, or traditional Mexican folk healing beliefs and practices have gained attention in academic scholarship over the past 60 years. However, there is no systematic study of the folk healing beliefs and practices of second-generation Mexican American millennials—a large and rapidly growing population in the United States. To fill this gap in the literature, this dissertation examines the folk healing beliefs and practices of second-generation Mexican American millennials utilizing a narrative research approach that incorporates pláticas as a method of narrative development. The data for this study come from in-depth interviews with fifteen second-generation Mexican American millennials.
The analysis of the data shows that second-generation Mexican American millennial participants have a good level of awareness of the most common folk healing beliefs and practices. Participants’ folk healing beliefs and practices include symbolic, religious/spiritual, metaphysical and supernatural beliefs and practices. Participants adhere to folk healing practices and beliefs during pregnancy, childbirth, and child care; during trips to Mexico; when they need an extra layer of protection; and when Western medicine falls short. The participation in folk healing practices is influenced by parents, accessibility of folk healers and folk healing materials, Westernized views of healing, negative associations of folk healing, trust, cultural connection and folk healing’s appeal as a natural alternative. Overall, there appears to be a generational decline in participants’ folk healing beliefs and practices and their accessibility to folk healing materials and healers.
This is the first systematic study of Mexican folk healing beliefs and practices among second-generation Mexican American millennials. The findings of this study make unique contributions to the literature on both curanderismo and the “contemporary” second generation in the United States, by providing information about their adaption to Western health world views, while simultaneously demonstrating how their healing beliefs and practices function as human and social capital. The findings also have significant practical implications for healthcare and health service utilization