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Traditional medicine as cultural heritage

Posted on 2 July 2018

York researchers demonstrate the contemporary relevance of traditional medicine

Postdoctoral researcher Liz Currie and our Head of Department John Schofield have a new publication in the leading journal World Archaeology, on traditional medicine as cultural heritage, and its continued practice and relevance within parts of modern-day South America.

Their research is based on Liz's current fieldwork in the Andes and can be found at As Liz and John describe it, traditional medicine is but one aspect of a whole culture, reflective of that culture’s overall system of beliefs.

This paper sets the continuing practice of indigenous medicine in the northern Andes of Ecuador within its pre-Columbian archaeological context, demonstrating how many of the contemporary beliefs and practices in indigenous communities today are survivals of a long tradition that developed outside of the western systems of belief brought in with the conquest by Spain in 1532. The next phase of the project will see Liz return from Ecuador to York where she will focus on developing transferable health models and "bridging scenario" that will take the insights gained from the surveys of present day indigenous Andean health beliefs and practices into policy and practitioner tools for use with contemporary global scenarios of Migrant, Refugee and First Nations' peoples