So, I have recently returned from a conference/summer school on Meso-American traditional healing practices at the University of New Mexico. The participants were an interesting mix of academics and practitioners with the slant towards a general audience amongst the presenters.I am hoping to continue connecting to the scholars at the program, which is repeated every summer in Albuquerque.I gave a couple of short presentations on popular beliefs and healing practices in Turkish culture. Its going to take some time to unpack a lot of what I learned and so I wont do that here. However, I know that there is a tension that I am going to continue to look at between modernity's insistence on hard cold reason and the post-modern shift towards integrating traditional knowledge and whether those who have continued with both tradition and its contemporary modernıst critiques have reconciled the two or selectively kept what traditional knowledge has made it through the net of modernity's gaze. In particular, I am interested in notions of ritual healing for trauma as found in curanderismo vs. other treatments for more physical ailments and whether the same weight is given by practitioners to the more empirically verifiable issues such as the physical benefit of empacho treatments compared to the more psychological issue of healing susto (fright and dissociation in modern western psycho therapeutic terms).
My first point will be to look at the reconciliation of these different threads of wellness discourses (allopathic and traditional) as they manifested in the life of a curandera and psychiatric nurse by the name of Elena Avila (writer of 'Woman Who Glows in the Dark'). My preference is to ground these issues in the personal and physical as much as possible. Parallel with this, I will be looking at similar Turkish cases where there could hypothetically be something of a reconciliation taking place but about which I am more doubtful, having the initial impression that in the area of wellness, there is a greater polarity around the issue of traditional beliefs in Turkey than found amongst, for example, Mexican-Americans such as Elena Avila for whom a multicultural and pluralistic outlook had become more normative in much of society and the medical industry specifically, progressively throughout her lifetime.
At the moment I am trying to draw the line under this section on new topics in my research repertoire. It may look like I have collected a lot of subjects but this has been a conscious choice to continue to look at ritual through the dynamic of space (as in my doctorate - but moving to new examples and issues, such as post-secularism, heterodox Muslim groups in Turkey) and also to a secondary branch in my work on ritual: its value as a practice for well being.
I hope to make some interesting discoveries but am not yet sure how to do this without turning this into a second PhD. I am hoping to break the main themes that come up into article-able subjects, step-by-step. Let's see how it goes. :-)