Randall Craig Burson II

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10408

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Burson II, Randall (Pennsylvania, U. of) "Intercultural Medicine, Territorial Dispossession, and the Struggle for Health in Southern Chile"

In April 2022, Chile’s Constitutional Convention approved measures to incorporate an intercultural, ‘territorially pertinent’ national health system into their prospective Constitution. This contemporary connection of territory to health care points to broader shifts in Indigenous-state politics since the 1990s, when intercultural programs integrated Indigenous practitioners into state-run biomedical clinics across Latin America. During this period, Mapuche communities across Southern Chile intensified their movement to reclaim not only land, but also their communities’ well-being. Therefore, contemporary intercultural healthcare, which entwines Mapuche medicine with biomedicine, has become a key site to examine Mapuche-Chilean state encounters involving health and territory. I ask: how do Mapuche people understand and pursue health amid ongoing territorial dispossession? To explore this question, I propose fifteen months of ethnographic research with Mapuche patients, biomedical and Mapuche health practitioners, and policymakers in Southern Chile’s La Araucan’a region. Drawing on my MD-PhD training, I will examine embodied illness experiences, intercultural clinical practices, and efforts to rehabilitate ethnobotanical resources to understand how Mapuche peoples reclaim health across bodily, clinical, and territorial domains. By studying how patients and practitioners pursue plural therapeutic forms, I aim to elucidate how Mapuche peoples redefine health care in the face of ongoing Latin American territorial struggles.