The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method

By Lola Romanucci-Ross; Daniel E. Moerman et al. | Go to book overview

a remedy that would drive weariness away and would drive out fear and fortify the heart. 52 Hernández and Sahagun do not attribute any medicinal properties to the plant in its use as an offering to high officials. They do mention other medicinal uses, however.

In the contracts between medical practices in the New World and the Old, the only major point at which exchange of information took place was in the area of herbal medicines. Those were adopted by Europeans seemingly as a matter of the practical necessities of dealing with the diseases and health conditions in the New World. Interest in Aztec culture was primarily ethnographic in nature (as in Sahagun's work), or was firmly embedded in the natural-history tradition of European academic inquiry (as in Hernández's work). The very pragmatic nature of medical practice provided the only real point of contract between two very disparate systems of medical treatment. The importation of New World plants (such as guaiacum) to the Old World, and of Old World plants to the New World, and a mutual concern with the efficacy of herbal remedies, provided the only substantial evidence of cross-cultural medical practices.


NOTES
1
See Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 ( Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972), 165-208, for a discussion of New World plants and Old World demography. See also Francisco Guerra, "Drugs from the Indies and the Political Economy of the Sixteenth Century", Analecta medico -- historica 1 ( 1966):29-54.
2
William M. Denevan, ed., The Native Population of the Americas in 1492 ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), 7.
3
Agustin Farfan, Tractado breve de anathomia y Chirugia, y de algunas enfermedades, que mas comunmente suelen hauer en esta nueua Espana. Compuesto por el muy reuerendo padre Fray Augustin Farfan, Doctor en medicina, y religioso de la orden de Sant Augustin. Dirgido al muy reuerendo padre maestro Fray Martin de Perea, Provincial de la dicha orden de Sant Augustin ( Mexico: Casa de Antonio Ricardo, 1579), 223-64.
4
Juan de Cardenas, Primera parte de los problemas y secretos maravillosos de las Indias ( Mexico: Casa de Pedro Ocharte, 1591; reprinted Mexico City: Imprenta del Museo Nacional de Arqueologia, Historia y Etnologia, 1913), 185-86, 191, 193.
5
See Sherburne F. Cook, "The Incidence and Significance of Disease among the Aztecs and Related Tribes", Hispanic American Historical Review 26 ( 1946):320- 35.
6
Crosby, Columbian Exchange, 122-64; Francisco Guerra, "The Problem of Syphilis", in Fredi Chiappelli, ed., First Images of America ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 2:845-51.
7
Charles H. Talbot, "America and the European Drug Trade", in Chiappelli, ed., First Images of America, 2:834-36.
8
Juan Comas, "Influencia Indigena en la medicina hipocratica en la Neuva Espana del siglo XVI", America Indigena 14 ( 1954):329.
9
Francisco Bravo, Opera medicinalia in quibus plurima extant scitu medico necessariain 4 li. digesta, que pagina versa cotinentur, Authore Francisco Bravo Ofunesi doctore, ac Mexicano Medico

-27-

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