Borderlands Curanderos: The Worlds of Santa Teresa Urrea and Don Pedrito Jaramillo (Paperback)
Santa Teresa Urrea and Don Pedrito Jaramillo were curanderos—faith healers—who, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, worked outside the realm of "professional medicine," seemingly beyond the reach of the church, state, or certified health practitioners whose profession was still in its infancy. Urrea healed Mexicans, Indigenous people, and Anglos in northwestern Mexico and cities throughout the US Southwest, while Jaramillo conducted his healing practice in the South Texas Rio Grande Valley, healing Tejanos, Mexicans, and Indigenous people there. Jennifer Koshatka Seman takes us inside the intimate worlds of both "living saints," demonstrating how their effective healing—curanderismo—made them part of the larger turn-of-the century worlds they lived in as they attracted thousands of followers, validated folk practices, and contributed to a modernizing world along the US-Mexico border.
While she healed, Urrea spoke of a Mexico in which one did not have to obey unjust laws or confess one's sins to Catholic priests. Jaramillo restored and fed drought-stricken Tejanos when the state and modern medicine could not meet their needs. Then, in 1890, Urrea was expelled from Mexico. Within a decade, Jaramillo was investigated as a fraud by the American Medical Association and the US Post Office. Borderlands Curanderos argues that it is not only state and professional institutions that build and maintain communities, nations, and national identities but also those less obviously powerful.
About the Author
Jennifer Koshatka Seman is a lecturer in history at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Her work has appeared in Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses and the Journal of the West.
Borderlands Curanderos is a highly engaging read for anyone interested in the medical and health humanities, history of medicine, and US-Mexico borderlands history. Jennifer Koshatka Seman’s analysis is complex and multilayered, which leaves much for the reader to contemplate, especially if it were to be used for undergraduate and graduate courses. This book reminds readers of the power of folk medicine and the uses that communities make of it.
[Don Pedrito Jaramillo and Santa Teresa Urrea's] lives and deeds must survive the plague of forgetfulness and amnesia, the tendency in North American culture to bury the past and look to the future. We should be grateful, in this regard, for scholars, such as Jennifer Koshatka Seman, who resurrect their memories and preserve their legends.
— Journal of the American Academy of Religion