Staiano, Kathryn Vance, 1940-. Interpreting signs of illness: a case study in medical semiotics

Table of Contents

Publication Information

Chapter 1 Defining The Boundaries Of Medical Semiotics


Chapter 2 The Research Setting

Belize: A Multi-ethnic Nation

Ethnicity And Ethnic Groups

Ethnicity And Adaptive Strategies

Stratification, Ethnicity And Resources


Chapter 3 Therapeutic Resources And Pluralistic Medical Systems

Syncretism, Pluralism, And Therapeutic Systems

Ownership, Access, And Exploitability: Categorization Of Therapeutic Resources

Lay Therapeutic Resources

Therapeutic Specialists

State Medicine


Chapter 4 The Garinagu Of Punta Gorda

The Garinagu: The Ethnographic Context

The Model Of Health And Illness


Chapter 5 The Model Of Cause And Effect Relationships

Body-self Interactions And Models Of Organic Interdependence

Interactions With The Natural And Culturally Modified Environment

Interaction Of The Body/self With Other Selves

Self-spirit Interactions


Chapter 6 Therapies, Therapists, And Therapeutic Resources

Presentation Of Signs

Generating Signs

Diagnosis And The Assignment Of Meaning To Signs

Therapeutic Interventions

Principles Of Intervention

Interviews With Four Healers

Mrs. Castro



Mr. Avilez

Propitiation Of Ancestors And The Major Ceremonies Directed Toward Healing


Chapter 7 Case Studies, Culture Texts, And Culture Models

Case Study One: Peter Lambey

Case Study Two: Mr. John Arzu

Case Study Three: Catalina Noralez

Case Study Four: Mary Sentino

Case Study Five: Benedicta Reyes

Case Study Six: Robert Valdez

Case Study Seven: Viola Gonzalez

Case Study Eight: Thomas Cowo

Case Study Nine: Carmelo Ramirez

Case Study Ten: Elias Pratt

Case Study Eleven: Mr. Juan Sho

Case Study Twelve: Mr. Jose Choc



Chapter 8 Health Seeking Transactions In A Pluralistic Society

Bases For Transactions Across Ethnic Boundaries

An Example Of The Articulation Of Codes: Blood As Metaphor And Metonym

Class, Ethnicity, And Health-seeking Behaviors


Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information


Title: Interpreting signs of illness: a case study in medical semiotics

Published By: Berlin ; New York ; Amsterdam: Mouton de Gruyter, 1986. 18, 284 p.: ill.

By line: [by] Kathryn Vance Staiano

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2005. Computer File

Culture: Garifuna (SA12)

Subjects: Theoretical orientation in research and its results (121); Theory of disease (753); Medical therapy (757); Medical care (758); Magical and mental therapy (755); Ethnic stratification (563); Household (592); Medical personnel (759); Organized ceremonial (796); Spirits and gods (776);

Abstract: The primary emphasis in this work is to present a study of the medical beliefs and practices of the Garifuna or Garifunas living in the town of Punta Gorda in Belize. There is much information here on various types of medical practitioners, diagnosis of disease, and forms of treatment for specific diseases. Staiano, using the concepts of semiotic theory as the basis of her analytic framework, explores the processes of communication, interpretation and negotiation among the Garifuna and examines the way in which signs of health and illness '...serve as metaphors, functioning to represent an object, event, or relationship whose association to the sign itself is never obvious, or as metonyms, acting to 'stand for' some greater whole' (p. xi). Since the Garifuna do not live in isolation from other ethnic groups, nor are they ignorant of Western medicine, this source also presents much information on conflict and competition among biomedical, ethnomedical and sacred medical paradigms, but at the same time showing in the overview how co-existence, co-optation, and to a lesser degree cooperation, can emerge as well.

Document Number: 5

Document ID: sa12-005

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 263-268) and index

Field Date: 1979-1984

Evaluation: Ethnologist, Linguist-5

Analyst: John Beierle ; 1989-1991

Coverage Date: 1960-1984

Coverage Place: Punta Gorda, Belize

LCSH: Black Carib Indians


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