Perceptions of disability amongst the Tarahumara in northern Mexico

Carolyn Raynor Trussell, University of Texas at El Paso


This research focuses on the perceptions of disability amongst the Tarahumara, known amongst themselves as the Rarámuri, in the Sierra Madre region of Northern Chihuahua. This population of individuals has typically lived in isolated areas in communities in the Sierra Madre where medical and specialized educational services were rare. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions, knowledge and beliefs related to disabilities, as well as the access and beliefs related to educational and medical services. The study focused on the individual and the society to examine how bodily conceptions influence perceptions of others. The target group for this research was individuals who have resided in the Sierra Madre and migrated to Chihuahua City, Mexico. Results of the study include that individuals with disabilities are likely to have mild disabilities as opposed to severe disabilities. Moreover, the results of the study show that educational and medical services for individuals with disabilities are limited. Additional results demonstrate that disabilities are perceived as religious and superstitious phenomena. Further, the results indicate that the social and physical environment for individuals with disabilities is one of harshness and invisibility with a lack of accessible services. The data reveal that the Rarámuri are a very private and closed social group. In addition, religion and having a healthy community are important to many Rarámuri. The Rarámuri are a collective society where the individual comes second to the collective group.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|Latin American Studies|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Trussell, Carolyn Raynor, "Perceptions of disability amongst the Tarahumara in northern Mexico" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1503803.