A-to-Z Index

Belief That Heals: Tibetan Medicine and Buddhism in Ladakh

by Emily Demeo - Honors Thesis

Abstract: This thesis paper is the culmination of two months of ethnographic research conducted during the summer of 2009 in the region of Ladakh, which is located in the midst of the Himalayas in northern India. It explores the inherent connections that exist between Tibetan medicine and Mahayana Buddhism, as exhibited in the Ladakhi medical system. The influx of Tibetans into northern India has shaped the culture of the region  for thousands of years, effectively earning Ladakh the moniker "Little Tibet".  A greater understanding of the relationship between religion and healthcare can lead to the beginning of a discourse about the elements that define a competent medical system, and the adequacy of medical systems in treating the wellness seekers in the communities in which they exist.

Irrigating a Ritual Landscape: Water, Culture, and Power in the Peruvian Highlands

by Marie McDonald - Independent Study (Dr. Mieka Polanco)

This paper examines the relationship between how people perceive and use water by analyzing irrigation systems and the cultural significance of water in the central Peruvian highlands.  Through fieldwork in Ancash, Peru I observed the importance of water access to agrarian subsistence, a core element of daily life in the region.  Water maintains a vital role in Andean cosmology and functions as a mediator between cosmological and natural worlds.  I illustrate how people use rituals to summon cosmological power and inscribe it onto the landscape by constructing irrigation systems that allow them to control and manipulate nature.  I analyze irrigation systems and rituals as human attempts to mimic the ability of water to mediate between cosmological and natural forces, resulting in a political economy of water and ritual power.  Finally, I claim that irrigation systems are the spatial manifestations of a ritual interface between society and nature; they are spatial rituals.

Key words: water, irrigation, ritual, cosmological power