Engendering Migrant Health: An Embodied Approach, Dr Denise Spitzer, University of Ottawa


Published on

Dr Denise Spitzer draws on interviews with female migrants to illustrate the severe decline in their health after their arrival in Canada.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Engendering Migrant Health: An Embodied Approach, Dr Denise Spitzer, University of Ottawa

  1. 1. Engendering Migrant Health: an embodied approach Dr. Denise L. Spitzer Canada Research Chair in Gender, Migration and Health Institute of Women’s Studies & Institute of Population Health University of Ottawa CANADA Presentation to “ Migrants and the Right to Health” Birbeck College, University of London London, UK May 27-28, 2010
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Preface </li></ul><ul><li>Work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Paid/Unpaid </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Worry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gendered tasks related to kin-work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Weariness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Erosion of hopes and dreams </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Multiple languages/multiple lenses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Language of the body (embodiment) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language of population health (policy) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Primary research, epidemiological studies, social science literature </li></ul>
  3. 3. Overview of Presentation <ul><li>Migrant Canada </li></ul><ul><li>Population Health </li></ul><ul><li>Embodiment </li></ul><ul><li>Work, Worry & Weariness </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on Stress </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
  4. 4. Migrant Canada <ul><li>One of most culturally-diverse countries in the world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>18% foreign-born </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>230,000 immigrants/refugees admitted annually </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>50% + women </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>50% from Asia-Pacific </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>20% from Africa & Middle East </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>9% South & Central America </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Healthy immigrant effect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be short-lived </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-Europeans </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Women </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Attributed to poor health behaviours, but… </li></ul><ul><li>Newcomers less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, or be obese </li></ul>
  5. 5. Population Health <ul><li>Social determinants of health </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Socioeconomic class, gender, social support, housing, learning opportunities, work environment, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Loss of healthy immigrant effect within population health framework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign-born experience decline in socioeconomic status </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social determinants of health most important to migrant health </li></ul><ul><li>Body within population health framework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Micro: receptacle and exhibit for disease </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Meso: interaction with gender, socioeconomic class, ethnicity, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Macro: object of policies/discipline </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Embodiment <ul><li>Body as subject </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Site of apprehension of the world </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making sense of sensation, organize symptoms into under meaningful disease label </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bodies incorporate, are understood and experienced through local and global frameworks that imbue sensations, behaviours and relations with political, economic, biomedical, cultural and gendered meanings. </li></ul><ul><li>Embodiment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexible, meaning-driven </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Population Health </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A priori categories that influence health </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Work-1 <ul><li>Downward Social Mobility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Foreign credentials and work experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>65% fall to low-income within first decade of life in Canada </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Women experience most precipitous decline in occupational status </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Everyday racism </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Precarious employment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>De-Skilling and Loss of Professional Identity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Survival jobs </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Work-2: FG Participant <ul><li>It’s really a privilege, serving people but there is that intimidation, there is that what you call, that pride it must be pride in me. I wouldn’t like to do that, to me and so it came out to the surface that I still look at my job as a nanny as lower than others. So I keep on putting in my mind that no, no, being a nanny is a noble job. Being a housekeeper is a noble job but at time that thought slips in so . . .Well I had expressed my feelings in a way that I still believe in my past. And although I am trying to accept that I am here doing an equally noble job as I had before the fact remains that there is still a difference. So the difference I compensate my longingness to do the past job by doing other things here which is commensurate to the demands of that job. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Work-3 <ul><li>Workplace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Control and lack thereof </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Care-Work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Home work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-negotiating gender roles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Caregiving responsibilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Smaller family networks </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intersection with public programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link with gender and ethnicity </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Worry-1 <ul><li>Kin-work </li></ul><ul><li>Worry as work </li></ul><ul><li>Familial Separation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sponsorship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Definitions of family </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Worry-2: Aman <ul><li>Our children, even if they are at university, they live at home. Until they get married, they are with the family. It doesn’t matter what age they are. The mother will cook for them, wash their clothes and take care of him, thinking, my child is at university studying. If we can, we take care of him, wash for him, feed him, and when he gets married, he’s in the hands of his wife. You can raise your brother’s children, your sister’s children, if they need a hand, if they don’t have enough economical support. They are part of your family and they keep with you. That’s part of our culture. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Worry-3: Fatoun <ul><li>My husband was ambassador to many countries… and now I’m waiting for the welfare cheque. When the war broke out, everyone went to different directions… The best thing that can happen in life is to have your husband and your children with you. I’m thinking too much. My mom died in the war. Most of my family died in the war. I want my husband with me; I don’t have document [s] , how can I bring my husband? What can I do for him? I’m thinking too much. I developed diabetes and high blood pressure, high cholesterol. I developed all of these things because I am thinking too much because my husband is not with me. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Worry-4 <ul><li>Intergenerational Issues </li></ul>
  14. 14. Weariness-1 <ul><li>Disappointments and discrepant expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Somatic expression </li></ul><ul><li>Defy nosological categories </li></ul><ul><li>Bodily dissent </li></ul>
  15. 15. Weariness-2: Carolina <ul><li>I feel it’s because of depression. Being in another country, different clim[ate], different culture, the language, it was too much stress for me… </li></ul><ul><li>Interviewer: What makes your diabetes worse? </li></ul><ul><li>Worse? Not having job! Yeah, that’s true; is true. Not having job, having emotional problems, and being unstable in job . For example, you are not sure today if you have job tomorrow; you don’t know. Something like that. Coping with many, many things. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Resistance <ul><li>Resilience </li></ul><ul><li>Resistance resources </li></ul><ul><li>Buffering stressors </li></ul><ul><li>Social networks & social support </li></ul>
  17. 17. Towards an Engendered/Embodied Migrant Health <ul><li>Body Talk </li></ul><ul><li>Talk about the body = talk about everything (Davis 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>General aches & malaise, defying nosological categories can be embodiment of inequality </li></ul><ul><li>Testimonials & solidarity </li></ul>
  18. 18. Stress <ul><li>Relevance to both approaches </li></ul><ul><li>“ Social experiences become ‘written on the body’ … (Wainright and Calnan 2002 in Freund 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Negates mind/body dichotomies </li></ul><ul><li>Psycho-neuroimmunology </li></ul><ul><li>Coping with stress </li></ul>
  19. 19. Mei: <ul><li>Friends, they are the best help, because they have the experience, and they can share information with others. You can judge whether things are helpful or not, that will be the best. But the problem is that the people around you don’t have the information either, they’re also looking for people who have the information. So you need a bigger circle of friends. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Conclusion <ul><li>Health writ large </li></ul><ul><li>Social determinants </li></ul><ul><li>Attention to body and intersectional location </li></ul><ul><li>Stress </li></ul><ul><li>Promote social network/support </li></ul><ul><li>Consider impact of policies </li></ul>
  21. 21. Thank you