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NWO Award for Integrated Mental Healthcare in the Dutch Caribbean

22 June 2021
Durwin Lynch was awarded the prize for Best Poster at the NWO Dutch Caribbean Research Week: "This recognition means a lot to the communities I represent. I have found that my academic voice is fuelled by my own inner child healing process."

Durwin Lynch's poster focused on “Integrated Mental Healthcare in the Dutch Caribbean”, where he proposed collaboration between traditional healers and biomedical practitioners to holistically address mental health issues. His research explored how the traditional healing act of 'Brua' manifests itself in Curacao society compared to western medicine, and what the enabling and hindering factors are to their co-existence.

Brua is an Afro-Caribbean religion and healing tradition practiced on Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao that exists for more than 350 years, and which plays a significant role in how (local) individuals make sense of their health and wellbeing. While western/biomedical approaches to health are dominant in some settings, there is an increasing amount of literature showing that people may use different explanatory models to attribute the cause of deviations in health (both mentally and physically) to supernatural occurrences or to previous wrongdoings, and seek relief through rituals and practices performed by traditional healers. The aim of this exploratory study was to contribute to a (better) collaboration between Western health professionals and Traditional Healers, by gaining a more in-depth understanding of how Brua is perceived and practiced nowadays by the inhabitants of Curacao. The study takes a constructive perspective on the practice of Brua, approaching it as a cultural phenomenon, and seeking to define its influence on the lives of people using their own framing and interpretation. 

This research was funded by the Royal Netherlands Institute of South East Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV).