Health beliefs, healing practices and medico-ritual frameworks in the Ecuadorian Andes: the continuity of an ancient tradition

Elizabeth Jean Currie, Arthur John Schofield, Fernando Ortega Perez, Diego Quiroga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper introduces the European Commission-funded project ‘MEDICINE:
Indigenous Concepts of Health and Healing in Andean Populations’, which
takes a time-depth perspective to its subject, and uses a framework of
interdisciplinary methods which integrates archaeological-historical, ethnographic
and modern health sciences approaches. The long-term study objective
is ultimately to offer novel perspectives and methods in the global
agenda to develop policies sensitive to indigenous, refugee and migrant
people’s social, economic and health needs, as well as culturally sensitive
approaches to the conservation of their ‘intangible cultural heritage’. This
paper focuses on the project’s first phase, the critical examination of archaeological
and ethnohistorical evidence and accounts from contemporary indigenous
practitioners of Andean Traditional Medicine. These sources then
shape the development of health beliefs and practices models which have
informed the development of questionnaires for the second ‘survey’ phase of
three indigenous Andean populations in the Central Sierra region of Ecuador.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-479
Number of pages19
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

© Informa UK Ltd, 2018. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

Elizabeth Currie is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Experienced Researcher and Global Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, and Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Health Sciences, University of York, United Kingdom. Elizabeth has regularly worked across disciplinary and methodological boundaries throughout her rich and varied career which has consisted of two principal trajectories: that of South American archaeology and anthropology, and health sciences and health workforce research. In recent years she developed her lifelong interests in ethnographic and ethnohistorical study of Latin America, during which period she lived and worked with indigenous Andean communities in Ecuador, researching Andean traditional culture and medicine.


  • Andean medicine; ethnomedicine; health beliefs; health models; healing rituals; traditional medicine

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