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In the context of development, considerable attention is paid to population health, usually interpreted according to mortality rates or burden of disease estimates. However, health is more complex than such physical indices can convey. This is particularly evident among many contemporary indigenous communities whose concepts of well-being extend well beyond conventional biomedical measures. Such misalignment of perspectives can have implications for how the health effects of development are determined. To gauge the relevance of alternative perspectives, indigenous notions of health among Highland communities in Chiapas, Mexico are examined. This paper begins with a historical account of health and healing rituals in the region, then describes current beliefs and practices among a set of Highland communities. © 2012 Copyright Oxford Department of International Development.

Original publication




Journal article


Oxford Development Studies

Publication Date





405 - 421