Zully Juarez

From the Highlands to the City; Maya Women’s Ways of Healing in South Central Los Angeles

This fall, I plan to investigate Guatemalan Maya women’s healing strategies’ and the ways in which they survive a midst the conditions of migration and violence. My main objective in completing this research is to understand,

How do Maya Guatemalan women living in South Central Los Angeles maintain ancestral forms of healing (traditional practices) in urban spaces, given the effects of migration and dislocation of their native lands? How does the change in community affect them physically, spiritually, and emotionally?

I will approach this research question in three ways. First review histories of racialized and gendered state violence in Guatemala. Then, I will explore how the change in environment has affected women who were born and raised in the highlands of Huehuetenango, Guatemala and how migrating to an urban space like Los Angeles impact their relationship with traditional practices, specifically looking at Maya Q’anjob’al language, Maya spirituality and corte the traditional dress. Third, I will focus on different approaches these women use to heal their bodies, spirits and different forms of retaining their culture, given the dislocation from their ancestral lands and pressure to identify with the larger Latino community due to various discriminatory factors that target indigenous communities.