Anneleise Azua

University of Texas at Austin

Anneleise Victoria is a Ph.D. candidate in the American Studies department, as well as a graduate portfolio student in the Latino Studies Department. Her interests include oral history, history of health and medicine, and U.S.-Mexico borderlands in the 19th and 20th century. Anneleise received her B.A. in Communication and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, where she was a McNair Scholar and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. In 2016, she completed her M.A. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2018, she received a Dissertation Grant from the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation.

Dissertation Title: Cambiando Curanderismo: An Oral History Account of Border Medicine

Dissertation Abstract: Latinxs in the United States currently face drastically elevated rates of obesity, diabetes, tuberculosis, and HIV in comparison to Non-Hispanic whites. These health disparities are particularly striking along the U.S.-Mexico border. Anneleise’s project illuminates contemporary Latinx health and medical struggles and alternatives in the borderlands from the 20th century to the present day. She relies on interdisciplinary American Studies and Medical Anthropology frameworks to illuminate the root causes for Latinx health disparities and investigate this population’s use of ethnic folk medicine and other informal alternatives to biomedicine in the US and Mexico. Her study is a transnational look into to the structural and historical forces that compel people to take healthcare into their own hands, considered through the lens of nationalism, local and national identity formation, and racialization. While supplemented heavily by public health statistics and archival data, the primary contribution of her work stems from oral histories conducted with women in the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where, regardless of reasons of need or novelty, self-sufficient forms of healthcare and medicine have been embraced for centuries. The use of traditional, informal, or alternative medicine does not necessitate an opposition to biomedicine – rather, they are complementary. Further, Latinxs with a range of medical care choices also seek alternatives to biomedicine because of social networks or personal preferences for natural and culturally relevant approaches to their health.