Marketing Medicines: Conceptualizing Cultural Identity and Livelihood among Market Vendors in Asunción, Paraguay




Millman, Heather

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University of Guelph


This thesis investigates the ways in which the selling and utilizing of medicinal plant remedies in Asunción, Paraguay intersects with conceptualizations of Paraguayan cultural identity, traditional gendered knowledge systems, and with the socioeconomic realities of vendors and consumers. Engaging with anthropological theories of the political economy of health, cultural identity, and the socioeconomics of women workers in Latin America, it explores how the use of indigenous healthcare practices engages with notions of Paraguayan identity and traditional knowledge, including the transmission of gendered knowledge. Through data collected in semi-structured interviews with market vendors of medicinal plants in Asunción, this thesis investigates the connections between indigeneity and land, cultural and symbolic identity and food, and the livelihoods of medicinal plant vendors, in order to argue that the selling of these traditional plant medicines in the local markets of Asunción solidifies Paraguayan identity by providing daily affordable access to consumable symbols of "Paraguayanness."



markets, livelihood, plants, medicines, identity, culture