Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Gregory B. Johnson

Second Advisor

Sam Gill

Third Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Fourth Advisor

Emma Perez


This thesis examines curanderismo and its potential as a decolonizing force. Curanderismo is a Mexican-American “folk” magical religious tradition that focuses on healing physical ailments and maintaining spiritual balance. Comprised of a blend of Indigenous Native American components and Catholic practices, it employs natural tools such as herbs, eggs, and water to bring equilibrium to the mind and body of a client. It is believed that a curander@, or healer, has been given a don, or gift, from God that enables them to provide healing to others, acting as a conduit of divine power. I argue that curanderismo, as a product of multiple and disparate cultural traditions, occupies the in-between space of nepantla; in doing so, it facilitates decolonization efforts by enabling practitioners to resist and subvert colonial institutions like the Catholic Church, the Federal government, and social patriarchy.