P 20 Jesuit colonial medicine in South America: a multidisciplinary and comparative approach

The Jesuit reductions of Paraguay and adjacent territories in nowadays Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina (1608-1767) are a particular well-documented area of encounter between Jesuit missionaries and indigenous populations mainly Guarani. We have medical texts mainly in Spanish from these area but also a pharmaceutical manuscript in Guarani, ascribed to the Lay Brother Marcos Villodas (1695-1741) and dated 1725, not yet edited.

When the most important Spanish text on the topic by
the physician Pedro de Montenegro (1663-1728) was rediscovered in the 19th century it was called „Materia Medica misionera“ in its first edition. Different manuscript versions, some with illustrations exist. We also have the recently rediscovered anonymous Spanish Tratado de ... cirurgia, dated 1725 and related to the missions, which represents one major source about history of medicine in the region.

This obviously raises questions about the chosen languages (Spanish or Guarani), the importance of medicine for the history of science in the region, and about considering emotional aspects in pain research and case studies reported in these documents. We still know little into which degree local medical knowledge by the autochthonous Guarani population was provided in these texts. A new field of research in indigenous scripturality will have to take account of these documents even if they seem to be written mainly by bilingual authors, Spaniards born in the region or mestizos who also spoke the Indigenous language.
 

Impressions of ICTAM IX

  • Impressions of ICTAM IX, 2017, by Matthias Burmeister, ICTAM IX Filmteam