HomeSPU Research Journal on Global Educationvol. 1 no. 1 (2016)

Displacement as Disease: Exploring Links between Traditional Healing and Well-Being in the Context of Relocation Crisis

Ronel P. Dela Cruz



This study explores the link between the displacement and the community’s well-being in the context of Fuga Island. It demonstrates how people’s “sense of place” is integral to their well-being and how the situation of poverty, land insecurity, and human rights abuses in the island are causing “disease” in the community physically or biologically, emotionally, and socially in the form of conflicts and violence. It then explores the role of Fuga Island’s traditional healers or herbolarios (as they are called by the locals) in responding to this situation. Guiding the project design is a qualitative approach in exploring and understanding the inhabitants’ sense of place through the perspective of traditional healers in the context of an impending relocation and loss of land. Using participant observation and focused group discussions (FGDs) to gather narratives, the study explores the link between traditional healing and the community’s well-being. Encoded data were analyzed in NVIVO 7 software to analyze the themes, trends, and patterns from the narratives. What is strikingly evident in the study of place is the way these diverse perspectives and fields have been seen as related to one another. The idea of place seems to demand such interdisciplinary work; its complexity requires the bringing in of multiple perspectives to bear upon our understanding of who we are as placed and displaced people. It also reminds us that while place has undeniably personal significance, one’s sense of place always touches upon and is shaped by larger social, cultural, and political forces.