Indigenous Ancestors and Healing Landscapes
Cultural Memory and Intercultural Communication in the Dominican Republic and Cuba
Imprint: Sidestone Press
In Indigenous Ancestors and Healing Landscapes Jana Pešoutová presents new interpretations of current healing practices in Cuba and the Dominican Republic juxtaposed against the European colonization of the Caribbean after 1492. By combining data from critical historical analyses and ethnographic fieldwork, this research examines current healing landscapes and their historical background in both countries. This dissertation situates the continuous importance of non-institutional healing practices within the rich symbolism of Cuban and Dominican landscapes. More specifically, the study focuses on practices promoting physical, mental and spiritual healing of individuals and communities. It provides various examples that illustrate human interactions with divine and ancestral beings residing in places such as water sources, caverns, or manifested in plants and other natural phenomena. Data presented in this work guides our understanding of how local cultural memory plays a key role in our construction of medicinal histories, and the profound demographic and landscape transformations which shaped the healing landscapes after European conquest. Healing landscapes are also testimonies of the Cuban and Dominican ancestors’ creativity, resilience, capacity to heal and find unity in the dehumanizing and alienating atmosphere of colonial violence and exploitation. This book is not aimed solely for academic public, but also those interested in Caribbean cultures, and the history of medicinal practices.
1. Rhizomes of Healing LandscapesColonial discourse and the question of cultural continuityForgetting indigenous peoples of the Greater AntillesApproaching Healing LandscapesData collection and fieldwork methodologyEthicsOutline of the dissertationPART I: THEORETICAL AND HISTORICAL DIMENSIONS OF CARIBBEAN LANDSCAPES2. Healing Landscapes from a theoretical perspectiveIntroduction to landscape studiesMemory landscapesHealing Landscapes3. Natural Man in the Caribbean Paradise: the origins of colonial discourseThe noble savage idea in Lesser AntillesIndigenous past as the beginning of the Dominican nationIndigenous ancestors during the formation of the Cuban nationThe indigenous past in Dominican and Cuban History textbooksThe Alienation from Natural Man in the collective memory4. Empty Pages in the Biography of Healing LandscapesIndigenous ancestors transforming Caribbean LandscapesWest African ancestors shaping Caribbean landscapesEuropean ancestors reshaping Caribbean landscapesThe multidirectional circulation of the medicinal knowledge in the Greater AntillesConcluding remarks5. Crossroads of Cultural landscapes: the indigenous base of demographic changesBrief account of indigenous ancestors in colonial HispaniolaAfrican ancestors in Dominican demographic historyThe interactions among the colonized strataThe subsequent historical development of Dominican societyA brief overview of demographic background of selected Dominican sitesMajor tendencies in Cuban ethnogenesisColonial history of Indigenous Cuban ancestorsAfrican ancestors in Cuban ethnogenesisDistinctive character of the demographic history of the eastern CubaA brief overview of demographic background of selected Cuban sitesRevising the indigenous component in demographic historiesPART II: CONTEMPORARY TRADITIONS6. Qualities of the landscape in daily lifeFlora as a source of alimentationConcluding remarks7. Healing in sacred and animated landscapesOther spiritual beings in Cuban and Dominican landscapesIllness and cureHealing specialistsHealing PlantsAncestral roots and rhizomesConcluding remarks8. The subaquatic realm of ancestors and other beingsDominican Ancestral Subaquatic DwellingsCaribbean waterbodies as reservoirs of indigenous pastConcluding remarksMana LandscapeCave of La Mancha: Healing with Indigenous LwasThe Cave of Saint Francis as a Healing and Memory Place of BánicaHealing among Spiritists, Managuaco cavern, Holguín, CubaCueva De los Santos Gibara, CubaCuban and Dominican caverns as memory places of indigenous pastConcluding remarks10. Synthesis and Conclusions. At the Crossroads of Healing LandscapesRemembrance and OblivionHistorical formation of Cuban and Dominican Medicinal CulturesConstituents of healing landscapesMemory of indigenous ancestorsWater sources and caves as ancestral placesHealing landscapes as expressions of cultural memories of indigenous pastContinuities and heritage lossHealing landscapes within landscape theoriesFuture directions of researchBibliographyAbstractThe research and its objectivesAcknowledgmentsAttachment