Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica

From East L.A. to Anahuac

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Paloma Martinez-Cruz argues that the medicine traditions of Mesoamerican women constitute a hemispheric intellectual lineage that continues to thrive despite the legacy of colonization. Martinez-Cruz asserts that indigenous and mestiza women healers are custodians of a knowledge base that remains virtually uncharted.

The few works looking at the knowledge of women in Mesoamerica generally examine only the written—even academic—world, accessible only to the most elite segments of (customarily male) society. These works have consistently excluded the essential repertoire and performed knowledge of women who think and work in ways other than the textual. And while two of the book’s chapters critique contemporary novels, Martinez-Cruz also calls for the exploration of non-textual knowledge transmission. In this regard, the book's goals and methods are close to those of performance scholarship and anthropology, and these methods reveal Mesoamerican women to be public intellectuals. In Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica, fieldwork and ethnography combine to reveal women healers as models of agency.

Her multidisciplinary approach allows Martinez-Cruz to disrupt Euro-based intellectual hegemony and to make a case for the epistemic authority of Native women. Written from a Chicana perspective, this study is learned, personal, and engaging for anyone who is interested in the wisdom that prevailing analytical cultures have deemed “unintelligible.” As it turns out, those who are unacquainted with the sometimes surprising extent and depth of wisdom of indigenous women healers simply haven’t been looking in the right places—outside the texts from which they have been consistently excluded.
“An engaging and accessible addition to the scholarship on Mesoamerican women, examining various historical moments from the pre-Columbian period to the present.”—Bulletin of Latin American Research
“This engaging book grabbed me from the first to the last page. Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica is a brilliant achievement in interdisciplinary research that traces a clear line of indigenous discourses of knowledge in which individual, collective and ecological well-being are interconnected and must be diagnosed and treated together. This book is a significant and heartfelt contribution to women’s and gender studies, Latin American studies, Chicana/o and Borderlands studies, as well as emerging intercultural dialogues on medicine and healing.”—Analisa Taylor, author of Indigeneity in the Mexican Cultural Imagination: Thresholds of Belonging
“Martinez-Cruz inscribes herself as one of the many women, like those inspiring examples in her book, who not only possess valuable knowledge, but who serve as one of the guardians of it.”—Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources
“Martinez-Cruz has written a captivating personal narrative that intertwines with the historical account of the ways Mesoamerican women healers played a role during childbirth and helped cure the sick. The resulting story is an engaging read for those intrigued by indigenous healing practices, medicine, and spirituality.”—International Planned Parenthood Federation–Western Hemisphere Region
Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica
208 Pages 6 x 9 x 0.6
Published: November 2011Paperback ISBN: 9780816529421
Published: December 2017Ebook ISBN: 9780816538508

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