Personal statement

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  • Publicado : 16 de enero de 2011
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Personal History Statement

I took the first major decision of my life when I decided to move out of Leon, the city where I grew, to Mexico City in order to broaden my education and training. At that time I had two goals. The first one was to become a high level contemporary dancer; the other was to study Anthropology. I knew that by staying in Leon I would not be able to achieve any of them.Dancing schools in Leon were good, but their scope was somewhat limited. On the other hand, the opportunity to start undergraduate studies in Anthropology was limited by two factors. First, there were only small private schools, whose tuition fees I could not afford. Second, these schools did not offer any academic programs that matched my interests. The best option then was to move to Mexico Citywhere there were many high level professional dancing schools and the National School of History and Anthropology (ENAH), a very serious public school that had exactly the career I wanted. Some years later, I had to make another very important decision, not as vital as the first, but decisive for my academic future. It had to do with the subject of my undergraduate thesis research, and it wascrucial because it meant dropping the subject I was engaged in at that time: shamanic practices and the nature of altered states of consciousness, and getting involved in an area that was new to me, but not completely unrelated to it. This new area was the study of mental disorders. I must admit that this decision was, at first, not academic, but circumstantial. Since I had been living on my own andworking to support myself, I could not afford to leave my job –as a waitress- and do fieldwork in remote communities. I shifted then to this area since it enabled me to do fieldwork without leaving my job. But very soon I discovered that it offered me the possibility to further explore issues related to altered states of consciousness and introduce me to the world of

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social andpsychosocial phenomena. Some of these issues, which I later found very interesting and intriguing, and that were to constitute the main body of my bachelor thesis, were those which are most inaccessible to observers: the psychotic experiences. In considering the study of the psychotic experience as my research topic, I had solved the obstacle of distance, but my involvement with psychotic patients confrontedme with another major challenge: it inserted me, a student of anthropology, in an alien field, a field that belonged to mental health experts. I successfully overcame this challenge, when I managed to be linked with four different but related groups: an escort team of therapeutics at the National Institute of Psychiatry, the Florida Clinic, a civil association called Relatives of SchizophrenicPatients, and a team of therapeutic attendants. In each of these groups my role was somewhat different. In the first three I was involved as a participant observer, but in the fourth I worked, during a complete year, as a therapeutic attendant to psychotic patients. After my thesis project was concluded, and because there were no consolidated anthropologists engaged in this area of mental health, Ibecame professionally engaged –as research assistant- in other areas that exposed me to a wide variety of subjects and experiences not directly linked to main academic interests. Nevertheless, the research experience I gained, together with the knowledge and management of tools and research methodologies in other disciplines, such as physical anthropology and demography, enabled me to widen thescope of my skills and intellectual perspectives. Two major projects from the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) where I participated were the following: "Bio-Processes and Social Welfare: Health, Reproduction and Diversity" and "Dynamics of the Central western Indian Zone, Hierarchy and Natural Resources from a Global Perspective”. I participated in both these projects as a...
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