The Influence of Poverty and Violence on the Therapeutic Landscapes of the Kaqchikel
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Therapeutic landscapes are places that contribute positively to a healing experience or to the maintenance of an individual's health and wellbeing. The literature on therapeutic landscapes has been growing steadily since the early 1990s, but researchers have yet to sufficiently explore both non-Western and gendered perspectives. The research presented in this thesis addresses these two gaps by examining how Kaqchikel men and women in the municipality of San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala, differ in their construction and use of the therapeutic landscapes that surround them in their daily lives. <br /><br /> This research is broadly informed by feminist thought and methodologies, and the specific strategy of reflexivity was employed throughout the research process. In terms of gathering data, the two specific methods used were photovoice and structured interviews. Photovoice, it is argued, is an ideal method for studying therapeutic landscapes (particularly in a cross-cultural setting) because it gives participants the opportunity to reflect on their therapeutic landscapes before explaining them. The photographs also act as a visual cue that enhances interviews and can also bridge different experiences of reality. In total, 28 key informants were recruited through snowball sampling, with an equal number of male and female participants. Issues of foreign language research and translation are also addressed and some strategies for dealing with working in a foreign language are suggested. <br /><br /> Four main themes emerged from the data, and these themes revealed that Kaqchikel therapeutic landscapes are heavily driven by the poverty and violence experienced by the majority of participants. These four themes were: daily survival, community development, 'escape', and negative landscapes. Through these themes it was shown that the therapeutic landscapes of the Kaqchikel differ greatly between men and women due to traditional gender roles and relationships as well as the disproportional effect of violence on women, which restricts their mobility and ability to access their therapeutic landscapes. Finally, these themes reveal that Kaqchikel therapeutic landscapes span multiple generations and are multilayered, highly dynamic, and contingent on the social, political, and economic climates of the day.