Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Hybrid healthscapes : mothers' health care and food practices in the Ecuadorian Andes Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/0v838373g

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  • After decades of expert-based modernization efforts that have had profound negative impacts on human and environmental health, Ecuador is currently pursuing a rights-based, participatory development paradigm known as sumak kawsay or "the good life". Despite its promises of inclusion and interculturality, this approach continues to rely on highly trained specialists, leaving little space for local practices that create and maintain well-being. Research has found that women are central figures in the medically pluralistic health systems that characterize the Andes. This ethnographic study explores the heterogeneity of mothers' food and health care practices in a rural village in the province of Carchi. Participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and free listing provide evidence of a wide variety of practices involving foods and home remedies that serve to maintain health. These are often reflective of a nostalgia for an imagined healthier past, which comes forth strongly during the postpartum period and young child feeding. Mothers often treat the most common child illnesses at home with a variety of remedies, many of which are also consumed as foods. In addition to home care, mothers navigate and engage with a pluralistic health system by visiting folk healers and consulting medical doctors when needed. Their practices are inherently shaped by their limited access to resources, and they reflect hybrid knowledges that are responsive to dynamic "healthscapes". These findings suggest that mothers act as primary care givers by enacting dynamic knowledges through their practices, and I argue that fostering the diversity and interculturality of sumak kawsay may require greater inclusion of mothers' home practices in national development agendas.
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