Ethnomedicine Among the Lamista Quechua: History, Innovation and Cultural Revitalization
Christina Callicott, M.A.
The Llakwash or Lamista Quechua are an ethnic group formerly centered on the mission town of Lamas, near Tarapoto, Peru, but now have a diaspora that reaches as far as Iquitos, Pucallpa and the Madre de Dios area. The Lamista provide an interesting case study for the relevance of history, culture, and socio-political dynamics in the formulation and practice of contemporary ethnomedicine. Drawing on archival research and preliminary fieldwork, Christina will discuss certain elements of Lamista shamanism, particularly the plant diet, that are relevant to colonial history, Quechua/Kichwa ethnogenesis, and the innovation and vitality that mark ethnomedicine in San Martin and in the Iquitos area. A humanitarian project operated by one Lamista Quechua family that aims to provide basic services, as well as shamanic training, to a nearby tribe whose shamans have been either murdered or driven underground will also be discussed. Christina's overarching hypothesis is that, rather than being an archaic tradition practiced since time immemorial, ayahuasca shamanism as Westerners know it is a product of historic and socio-economic processes in which indigenous people are using traditional tools to respond to the threats and pressures of today’s modern world.
Christina Callicott, M.A., is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Florida, also affiliated with the UF Tropical Conservation and Development Program. Originally from Tennessee, she spent over 20 years in Colorado as a journalist, guide, musician and outdoor educator before moving to Florida to pursue her Ph.D. She is currently raising funds to complete her dissertation research in the Western Amazon.