Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in American Studies (MAST)


American Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Maffitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan LeBaron


The Maya worldview is constructed on the concept of balance. Their traditional beliefs emphasize balancing the spiritual and physical forces in their lives to maintain equilibrium and thus, health. Nevertheless, outside forces have impinged heavily on this worldview, often shifting Maya views on health. Discussions with Maya partners throughout the United States revealed that though they do utilize ethnomedicine, they tend to overvalue biomedical techniques and caregivers—even if they do not seek care from them. Maya history, cultural identity, and the experience of diaspora shape the way Maya immigrants view their health and their health care options, often leading them to devalue their own cultural practices. The Maya Heritage Community Project (MHCP) at Kennesaw State University and the Maya Health Toolkit for Medical Providers can help the Maya construct a more balanced approach to health care in the United States by encouraging them to value both ethnomedical and biomedical practices. As scholars and partners to the local Maya community, the MHCP can assist in reinforcing the value of Maya cultural traditions in the eyes of the people themselves. This will increase the likelihood that the Mayas’ beneficial practices remain a part of their transnational culture, while also helping them to understand valuable biomedical knowledge and incorporate it into their cultural framework.