Diego Armus and Pedro F. GómezNov 8, 2021
The Gray Zones of Medicine
Healers and History in Latin America
Edited by Diego Armus and Pablo Gómez, The Gray Zones of Medicine: Healers and History in Latin America (University of Pittsburgh Press 2021) tell the stories of health practitioners that thrived in a gray space between legality and criminality, the trajectories they followed, and the interstitial spaces they inhabited between official and unofficial medicines. Spanning from the seventeenth century up to the twentieth century, this book wonderfully brings together the little-known stories and biographies of African, Chinese, and indigenous healers, midwives, homeopaths, amongst others. In the end, The Gray Zones of Medicine question traditional narratives in the history of medicine that center around the professional doctor, as well as concepts and dichotomies that have narrowly defined different healing cultures (e.g. Western vs. non-Western medicine, popular vs. learned medicine, European vs. indigenous or African medical systems). By doing so, the contributors of this volume propose a new narrative in which healers are at the center of the social and cultural histories of the region bridging the divide between the early modern and modern periods, one in which the seeming social and cultural dominance of official medicine, and later biomedicine, was never preordained nor complete, ultimately, a world in which these health practitioners were and are incredibly resilient in the midst of change.
Lisette Varón-Carvajal is a PhD Candidate at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. You can tweet her and suggest books at @LisetteVaron.