Pohã Ñana - Medicine From The Earth.
(Currently in production)
Pohã Ñana - plant based medicine is widely practiced throughout Paraguay. Through the use of medicinal plants Paraguayans engage not only with Indigenous knowledge but with important questions about identity, the right to practice one's culture, the right to freely access medicine, the right to health, and the often violent clashes over rights to the land. This film analyzes the relationship between Indigenous and mestiza/o people in Paraguay and medicinal plant use.
Human/plant relationships are by their very nature dynamic; engaging the ancestral, political, economic, gender, race, and spiritual practice. As a child in Paraguay this human plant relationship simply seemed like the way things were supposed to be; it was through my migration to the United States and the sudden, nearly complete, absence of the natural world that I understood the unique nature of this relationship.
I have conducted fieldwork with: yuyeros and curanderos in Asunción, at Montesur (a center of horticultural experimentation in rural south eastern Paraguay), medical doctors that include Pohã Ñana in their western practice, and recorded testimony from Paraguayans who have used Pohã Ñana to treat everything from headaches, abortions, side effects of chemotherapy, to dilating the cervix and inducing labor.
Some of the questions this film investigates include: How has the Indigenous medicinal plant culture of Paraguay been maintained and remained so widely popular despite centuries of colonization? In what ways does the use of medicinal plants engage with class, race, gender, and urban vs rural identity? How does the production and use of medicinal plants intersect with struggles around cultural and land rights? What are the intersections between Amerindian medicinal plant culture and African Macumba in Paraguay? How have we come to understand and develop our relationship with the land? What does it mean for land to be productive? What is responsible development? What paths should be taken in order to achieve economic stability?