James Waldram

James Waldram
University of Saskatchewan | U of S · Department of Psychology

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54
Publications
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1,641
Citations

Publications

Publications (54)
Article
Q'eqchi' women's health is the product of inherent, acquired, and induced vulnerabilities that inform an idiom of "weakness" characteristic of women compared to men, reflecting both biological difference and gender-specific demands placed upon them within the context of village life. While women are understood to be uniquely vulnerable to sickness...
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Susto is one of the most common disorders referenced in the medical anthropological and cultural psychiatric literature. This article questions if ''susto'' as understood in cultural psychiatric terms, especially in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM), is in fact a single ''cultural concept of distres...
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Throughout history, individuals and communities have developed complex cultural visions of the world around them shaped by local ecology, history, language, and interactions with neighboring peoples and their ways of life. To better understand, interpret, and appreciate the contemporary healing practices of Q’eqchi’ Maya healers, this article descr...
Article
Medical diagnosis is a process of illness discrimination, categorization, and identification on the basis of careful observation and is central in biomedicine and many traditional medical systems around the world. Through a detailed analysis of several illness episodes and healer interviews among Maya communities in southern Belize, we observe that...
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Theory and research on the healing practices of Indigenous communities around the globe have often been influenced by models of "symbolic healing" that privilege the way patients consciously interpret or derive meaning from a healing encounter. In our work with a group of Q'eqchi' Maya healers in southern Belize, these aspects of "symbolic healing"...
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This article explores the 2011 emergency evacuation experiences of members of the Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation in northern Saskatchewan, Canada due to a rapidly encroaching forest fire. The mandatory evacuation exposed a standard protocol of risk triage to determine who was "at risk" that emphasized the immediate threat of smoke and fire an...
Chapter
This chapter explores the narrative dilemmas confronting sexual offenders, particularly the rapists, whose disruptive life experiences are quite dramatic, self-induced, and universally reviled. Their old, normal, and unreflective way of living their lives within a familiar social context—prior to the commission of their sexual crimes—is replaced by...
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Several Indigenous communities around the globe maintain unique conceptions of mental illness and disorder. The Q'eqchi' Maya of southern Belize represent one Indigenous community that has maintained, due to highly "traditional" ways of life and the strong presence of many active localized healers or bush doctors, distinct conceptions of mental dis...
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This paper presents a case study of the traditional treatment of a Q'eqchi' Maya man in southern Belize in 2011 who is suffering from AIDS-related sickness. The purpose is to detail the empirical nature of Q'eqchi' Maya medicine, distinguishing between manifest and latent empiricism, as evidenced in the healers evolving attempts to treat the patien...
Chapter
My contribution to this volume focuses not so much on doing ethnographic research in prisons, but rather on writing and presenting ethnographic research that has, as its subject, individuals who have committed criminal acts — often of a horrendous nature — or who are, in a word, ‘bad’ (Waldram, 2009). Whilst there are many methodology textbooks tha...
Article
Traditional or indigenous healing is often assumed to involve rich forms of dialogical and symbolic communication between healer and patient that serve to explain its salience and efficacy. An ethnographic study of Q’eqchi Maya healing Belize suggests, however, that communication in some forms of indigenous healing may also be minimal and periphera...
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What can an exploration of contemporary Aboriginal healing programs such as those offered in Canadian prisons and urban clinics tell us about the importance of history in understanding social and psychological pathology, and more significantly the salience of the concept of "historical trauma"? The form of Aboriginal "healing" that has emerged in r...
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This paper investigates experiences of resilience in the context of individuals suffering from disability as a result of severe intractable seizure disorder and consequent hemispherectomy, a surgical procedure in which part or all of either the left or right cerebral hemisphere is removed. Two adults who underwent childhood hemispherectomies-one le...
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This is a detailed ethnographic study of a therapeutic prison unit in Canada for the treatment of sexual offenders. Utilizing extensive interviews and participant-observation over an eighteen month period of field work, the author takes the reader into the depths of what prison inmates commonly refer to as the "hound pound." James Waldram provides...
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Studies of the efficacy of 'traditional' Indigenous healing often fail to consider the epistemologies that underlay specific healing traditions, especially intrinsic notions of efficacy. In this article, I critically engage the concept of efficacy by identifying two somewhat different approaches to the issue of outcome. In 'transformative' healing...
Article
Employing a framework at the intersection of psychological anthropology and narrative theory, I provide a critique of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) approaches to sexual offender rehabilitation. I demonstrate that what forensic psychologists refer to as a "cognitive distortion" or "thinking error" is often embedded within a broader narrative, and...
Article
Abstract Employing a framework at the intersection of psychological anthropology and narrative theory, I provide a critique of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) approaches to sexual offender rehabilitation. I demonstrate that what forensic psychologists refer to as a “cognitive distortion” or “thinking error” is often embedded within a broader narra...
Article
Notions of “evil” are a feature of everyday discourse in civil society. Sexual offenders, individuals often labeled as “evil,” are well aware of public images of themselves and their crimes. This article examines public discourses of “evil” as they pertain to sexual offenders, and the views of sexual offenders themselves on what this means to them....
Article
Since the 1980s, a considerable amount of scholarly activity has focused on Maya heritage and, especially, on the influences of a globalizing tourist industry flooding Maya-land. In this paper, however, we argue that contemporary Maya identity and cultural processes do not simply reflect and refract globalizing influences such as tourism. In some a...
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Imprisoned sexual offenders undergoing treatment are expected to deduce and follow a treatment schema constructed on the foundations of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A key element of their treatment program is the presentation of a core narrative, their autobiography, to treatment staff and peers. Examining this form of prison-based treatment...
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In this article the author addresses two basic questions found at the intersection of ethics and qualitative research methodology: Why are some people reluctant to share their stories? and Are there some people whose stories ought not to be heard? Focusing on imprisoned sexual offenders, the author argues that the establishment of trust in the rese...
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This article examines the conflict that ensues over the meaning of `truth' in a treatment program for imprisoned sexual offenders. Based on ethnographic research in a prison hospital, extensive interview and observational data are employed to demonstrate the pervasiveness of truth discourse in both treatment and everyday living on the unit. Through...
Article
Alexander Leighton's seminal work has clearly demonstrated how ethnographic experience provides the rich cultural context in which epidemiological data are best interpreted. This article reviews recent trends in cultural epidemiology, and especially the emergence of the EMIC (Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue) as a quantitatively oriented tool...
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The efficacy of traditional medicine is an issue that continues to vex medical anthropology. This article critically examines how the efficacy of traditional medicine has been conceived, operationalized, and studied and argues that a consensus remains elusive. Efficacy must be seen as fluid and shifting, the product of a negotiated, but not necessa...
Article
Research with Aboriginal (Native American) prison inmates presents complex methodological and ethical challenges. This article examines a variety of these, including issues of informed consent, accountability, and the need to balance the perceived needs and goals of the inmates with those of correctional officials. Prison inmates in general are cha...
Article
Numerous studies, inquiries, and statistics accumulated over the years have demonstrated the poor health status of Aboriginal peoples relative to the Canadian population in general. Aboriginal Health in Canada is about the complex web of physiological, psychological, spiritual, historical, sociological, cultural, economic, and environmental factors...
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In recent years, the use of group therapy approaches with Aboriginal or Native Canadians/American Indians has become widely accepted. However, many advocates of this approach rarely consider the implications of group therapy for culturally heterogeneous groups, such as when non-Aboriginal peoples are involved or when there are Aboriginal peoples fr...
Article
Since the 1950s the federal government has mounted a series of initiatives to address the social, economic, and political marginality of Canadian natives. These initiatives have had a fundamental and often negative impact on native communities, often as a result of the intense resistance they have generated. Dealing with these developments has grad...
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Symbolic healing is a complex phenomenon that is still relatively poorly understood. This paper documents a process of symbolic healing which is occurring in Canadian penitentiaries, and which involves Aboriginal offenders in cultural awareness and educational programs. The situation is compounded, however, by the existence of offenders from divers...
Article
This paper examines the question of access to traditional Indian medical systems in the western Canadian city of Saskatoon. The data demonstrate that many Natives desire such access, and do not see difficulties in having Indian healers available in Western-style biomedical clinics. A variety of language variables proved to be the best predictors of...
Article
This paper compares the physician utilization patterns of similarly disadvantaged urban native and non-native people in the western Canadian city of Saskatoon. Through the administration of a large survey instrument to 142 native and 84 non-native respondents, the author demonstrates the extensive utilization by native residents of a particular 'wa...
Article
The persistence of the traditional medical systems among Canadian Native peoples has been fairly well documented, and some commentators have suggested that a resurgence in these systems is currently underway (Gregory, 1988). Although there have been very few studies of the utilization of these medical systems by contemporary Native peoples, there h...
Article
Native people have typically found employment at the lowest paying, least skilled levels in hydroelectric construction projects in Northern Canada. Examining the case of the Manitoba community of “Pike Lake,” data are presented that demonstrate that local labour was not used extensively, that labourers received little certifiable training, and that...
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The relocation and consolidation of subarctic native populations into settlement patterns designed according to southern, urban models has often resulted in cultural confusion and an increase in interpersonal tension, alcohol abuse, and violence. Through a review of selected case material, and the detailed examination of one relocated community, th...
Thesis
This dissertation describes the process of underdevelopment among the Cree Indian people of South Indian Lake, in Northern Manitoba, Canada, following the construction of the Churchill-Nelson River Hydro Project in 1975. The dissertation seeks to link the ecological, political, economic, socio-cultural and health aspects of the impact of the hydro...

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Project (1)
Archived project
To better understand Q'eqchi' Maya conceptualization and treatment of mental health conditions