Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, New York University
Organizing Care: Indigenous Social Construction of Dementia in Mexico

Dementia, described as a cognitive impairment characterized by a decline in memory and other cognitive abilities, has been promoted as a global health concern worldwide. In Mexico, this discourse, shifting local conceptions of aging and memory loss, has entered the public sphere over the past decade. Presently, dementia discourses maintain a biomedical language, and what is missing in the conversation is a cultural and social understanding of the condition. Zapotec women from Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico have started to organize to make health care demands for their elders experiencing the condition. In doing so, their organizing illuminates Indigenous experiences, frameworks, and languages to understand dementia, consequently shaping new concepts of care. This research will examine the activism of Indigenous women in Latin America and the emergent discourse of dementia with an Indigenous framework. This scholarship has been ignored within western medical traditions and academic fields, namely, social movements and medical anthropology studies.