James Waldram (left) and cultural interpreter Tomas Caal (centre) interview Q'eqchi' Mayan healer Francisco Caal in southern Belize as part of a documentary film. (Submitted photo)

U of S anthropologist shortlisted for prestigious SSHRC Impact Award

University of Saskatchewan medical and psychological anthropologist James Waldram has made the shortlist for the 2016 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Impact Awards.

By University Communications

Waldram is one of three finalists for the $50,000 SSHRC Insight Award, which is given to an individual or team whose SSHRC-funded project has resulted in significant contributions to knowledge and understanding about people, societies and the world.

The professor in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Science, is being recognized for his ongoing work with the Q’eqchi’ Maya of southern Belize and for his overall career achievements.

“Professor Waldram has done outstanding work in advancing understanding of Indigenous health and healing in Canada and Belize,” said U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad. “He has made exceptional contributions through community-based research to his discipline, to student training, to policy development, and mostly importantly, to the communities with whom he partners. Being named to the shortlist for this distinction is a testament to the high regard in which he is held by his peers and partners.”

Waldram has spent more than a decade travelling to Central America each year to live with the Indigenous Q’eqchi’ people of Belize and study their traditional healing practices, some of which date back thousands of years.

Waldram’s work, which has included producing a 45-minute documentary and an information booklet distributed in the Central American country, has helped the Maya Healers Association of Belize share its knowledge with the government and the medical community in Belize in order to gain wider acceptance for the healers’ traditional knowledge, practices and methods.

The winners in each Impact Awards category—as well as the overall gold medal recipient—will be presented with their awards in Ottawa on Nov. 22, 2016.

One of the leading Canadian researchers in his field, Waldram received the U of S Distinguished Researcher Award in 2013 and was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2014.