Author: Jarred Rimby, Whittier Scholar, 2017
Dr. Alvin Alejandrino, Biology
Dr. Teresa Delfin, Anthropology
Senior Project Abstract:
At the core of social relationships in the Peruvian highlands is reciprocity, the giving and taking of mutual assistance. In Quecha, the native language spoken in the Peruvian highlands, many words are used to differentiate between differing modes of reciprocity. Ayni refers to the sharing of work between kinsmen and compadres that is expected to be kept in balance, while mink’a refers to an asymmetrical situation in which one party is owed a service by the other. As reciprocal relationships are central to the sociocultural worldview of the Peruvian highlands, reciprocity can also be used as a foundation for understanding a Peruvian “model of health.” The goal of this research is to describe a model of health for residents of the Peruvian highlands, with the hope that it be employed in the development of future health promotion initiatives, working in the region. Findings are based on more than ten formal ethnographic interviews and significant participant observation conducted in June, 2016 throughout the Peruvian highlands in and around Cusco, and on Amantaní, Taquile and Uros islands plus other locations. Participants described spiritual and physical health as the two most important aspects of health that comprise holistic health. Participants categorized faith, and religion as factors with the capacity to influence spiritual health, and defined physical health in terms of fitness for the labor necessary to sustain oneself and family. It was made clear that spiritual health and physical health are inextricably linked, both able to influence one another. Spiritual health and physical themselves interact in an asymmetrical form of reciprocity where the relationship between spiritual and physical health is like mink’a and the relationship between physical and spiritual health is like ayni. Spiritual health has a greater capacity to influence physical health than physical health does spiritual health.
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