Borderlands Curanderos @ Golden History Museum
May 5 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Borderlands Curanderos

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Join Metro State University professor Jennifer Koshatka Seman, author of Borderlands Curanderos: The Worlds of Santa Teresa Urrea and Don Pedrito Jaramillo, as she discusses U.S.-Mexico borderlands during the turn of the twentieth century.

From the moment the Spanish colonized the Americas, they actively tried to suppress non-Catholic spiritualities. Yet Indigenous religions persisted. Sometimes they went underground; sometimes they combined with elements of Catholicism. In the tension between oppression and persistence, new religious formulations emerged in Spanish America, deeply influencing religious practices in the North American West, especially the region we now recognize as the US-Mexico borderlands and the Southwest. Not only were these new and evolving hybrid spiritualities seen throughout the colonial period but also at the turn of the twentieth century in the practice of Mexican curandera and espiritista Teresa Urrea (1873-1906), sometimes called “Santa Teresa” by her adherents. Teresa Urrea (1873-1906) and another curandero, Don Pedro Jaramillo (1829-1907), practiced curanderismo–a Mexican and Indigenous faith healing practice–in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands amidst rapid social and political transformations in both Mexico and the United States.

Through an examination of the lives and healing practices of Teresa Urrea and Pedro Jaramillo, this presentation will shed light on the various meanings that the practice of curanderismo held in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands over the turn of the twentieth century within the overlapping contexts of race, state-building, and institutionalized/professionalized medicine in the American Southwest and northern Mexico. This presentation will suggest that curanderismo as practiced by Urrea and Jaramillo contributed to the vitality of racially diverse communities in need of healthcare as well as religious and political inspiration during this transformative period.

About Jennifer Koshatka Seman

Jennifer Koshatka Seman received her doctorate in history from Southern Methodist University in 2015, and she currently is a lecturer in history at Metropolitan State University in Denver. Borderlands Curanderos: The Worlds of Santa Teresa Urrea and Don Pedrito Jaramillo is her first book, and it was published with the University of Texas Press in 2021. Borderlands Curanderos was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2022 in the category of biography, and it won the Americo Paredes 2022 book award. Jennifer teaches courses in US and Latin American history at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and she lives with her husband, Michael Seman, in Loveland, Colorado.


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