The focus of research at the Peru site of the SDSU MHIRT program concerns the medicinal plants used to treat disease by the curanderos, or healers, of the North Coast Region of Peru. Medical anthropology work is carried out with Indigenous curanderos, patients, EsSalud (the Peruvian National Healthcare System), and cultivators of native plants. The faculty mentor for the Peru site is Dr.  Douglas Sharon, Adjunct Professor in Latin American Studies at SDSU and the University at Buffalo Department of Anthropology and Research Associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden. MIHRT fellows work with our Peruvian colleagues and other summer students from all over the United States. All fellows live together in a hostel in the coastal city of Huanchaco, on the outskirts of Trujillo. They have an opportunity to participate in healing ceremonies carried out by local curanderos, to explore nearby Moche and Chimu archaeological sites, to observe local fiestas, and are required to prepare two papers on their summer work: a cultural experience paper and a research paper.

Areas of study for MHIRT students in Trujillo include:

  • Surveys of the persistence of herbal knowledge in public and private clinics and local communities.
  • Interaction between traditional and modern medicine.
  • Documentation of traditional knowledge and medicinal plant supply chains.
  • Development of community gardens of medicinal plants.
  • Ethnographic documentation of local and regional shamanism.

2020: We will continue medical anthropology surveys and open-ended questionnaires in the community of Huanchaco, peri-urban annex of El Milagro.


At least junior status with a GPA of 3.0.  Students with research experience, and some level of Spanish-speaking ability preferred.

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