This talk analyzes how the practices of care for pregnant and birthing indigenous women in public health clinics exemplify the structural limits to intercultural healthcare in Peru. The intercultural birthing policy was heralded as a major shift in the history of health care in Peru. It changed existing birth protocols, that followed technocratic models of birthing, to incorporate traditional Andean practices of care. The Peruvian deployment of an intercultural health framework echoed political projects in Ecuador and Bolivia which recognized indigenous health practices and preferences as on par with biomedical perspectives. This signaled a willingness to recognize and respect cultural differences and address historically engendered marginalization of indigenous communities. However, the construction of intercultural health through the day-to-day practices of pregnancy, labor and postpartum care of indigenous women demonstrates a clear disconnection between discourse and praxis. Further, they speak to a broader project of forceful “modernization” of indigenous bodies to fit into the desired mestizo nation.
Dr. Lucia Guerra-Reyes is a medical anthropologist and interdisciplinary researcher. She holds a PhD in Anthropology and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in Behavioral and Community Health, both from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to that, she studied a Master’s degree in Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Health at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru. She is currently an associate professor in the Department of Applied Health Science, at Indiana University Bloomington- School of Public Health. Her research focuses on the complexities of access to sexual and reproductive health care for marginalized communities. She is the author of “Changing birth in the Andes: Culture, Policy and Safe Motherhood in Peru” (Vanderbilt 2019).
For any questions, email LCA17@pitt.edu
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