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Curandera Sweetie

Curandera Sweetie by Rebecca Artemisa, 2016.

In 2013, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion published the article titled “New Contexts for Curanderismo: Recasting Mexican American Folk Healing within American Metaphysical Religion.” Its author Brett Hendrickson argues that despite its decline in the Hispanic community, many folk healers have taken up a “provisional and hybrid nature of curanderismo.” This new evolution doesn’t involve sanitizing the healing tradition, but rather “refashioning” it for a place in new American religious practices (622).

Unlike the 1900s, the 21st century brings back the curandera for an expanding client base. A new set of patients allows for Latinx folk healing to reconstruct. As with Artemisa and her art, this reimagining of curanderismo for non-Hispanics exemplifies “the mestiza consciousness” — coined by Gloria Anzaldúa. In her seminal work, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Anzaldúa posits the Latinx community lives in the “borderlands,” shifting between the prejudices and power of being both American and Latinx (99–101).

The development of curanderismo exists along those borderlands. It shifts between its two influences: those who came to establish their country and those who were already here. The curandera’s lessened role in the community in the modern United States underscores a losing struggle with an American majority. Now, her comeback resists that majority through her indigenous roots and as a part of American metaphysical religion. The evolution of curanderismo is altered by the relocation of both Europeans and Native Americans and the adaptations of its members as they relinquish power and resist.