This summer, the start of the 17th annual Traditional Medicine without Borders: Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico class, coincides with the release of a new supplemental textbook and photobook on the subject, deeply rooted in the teachings and history of the class.

Written by Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, the new book, “Curandero: Traditional Healers of Mexico and the Southwest,” is the first of its kind in the U.S. to cover the subject of Curanderismo and how the centuries old tradition is used in modern society. 

“Most of the information on Curanderismo is from the 70s,” Torres says. “Over the years, I have seen a shift in the paradigm of modern medicine to be more inclusive of traditions and rituals of the past and my goal was to write a textbook which highlights those trends.”

The book is a culmination of topics covered in not only the annual summer class, but also in the online and Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) courses. To date, there isn’t another university with a for credit course on this subject. 

“The University of New Mexico is the frontrunner in student research and promoting traditional medicine has impacted projects on the subject from all over the country,” said Torres.

Torres began teaching the online version of the class a few years ago by recording a series of modules covering topics on current traditional medicine rituals in Mexico, Peru, Cuba and Puerto Rico as well as other countries. 

“Traditional medicine has many Afro Latino influences,” Torres says. “Many of these influences are explained and demonstrated during the summer class and so it was nice to capture these demonstrations on video to use in our online modules and subsequently transfer them into the textbook.”

Over the past 17 years, more than 1,000 students have completed the course. Thousands of photos have been taken of the opening ceremonies, the curanderos, the demonstrations, and the rituals which make up this unique form of medicine. 

“This is the most photographed class on the UNM campus, so it made sense to partner with professional photographer, Imanol Miranda, to publish a book featuring curanderos of yesteryear, today and the future,” said Torres. “The photobook, entitled ‘Curanderismo:  The Art of Traditional Medicine’ tells the story of Curanderismo through a collection of beautiful photographs.”

Both books are scheduled to hit shelves in mid-July and will be available through the UNM Bookstore and via Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, and will be available in traditional and electronic book formats.  

In the meantime, Torres plans to keep teaching his courses and enlightening students about this unique, modern pastime. 

For more information on the summer and online Curanderismo courses, visit the UNM Curanderismo website