[URBANTH-L]CFP: "Do 'Illegal' Migrants Have a Right to Health? Toward
Critical Medical Anthropology of Unauthorized Migration and Health"
Sarah_Willen at hms.harvard.edu
Tue Feb 24 11:21:18 EST 2009
We would be very grateful if you could circulate the following Call for
Papers for a proposed 2009 AAA Panel titled, "Do 'Illegal' Migrants Have a
Right to Health? Toward a Critical Medical Anthropology of Unauthorized
Migration and Health."
Those interested in taking part are requested to send abstracts to both
organizers (hcastane at cas.usf.edu & sarah_willen at hms.harvard.edu) by FRIDAY,
FEBRUARY 27th at the latest. We apologize for the short notice, but we hope
to submit the panel for consideration as a possible Invited Session and
therefore must work quickly.
With best regards,
~Sarah Willen and Heide Castañeda
PROPOSAL FOR A 2009 AAA Double Panel
TITLE: “Do ‘Illegal’ Migrants Have a Right to Health? Toward a Critical
Medical Anthropology of Unauthorized Migration and Health”
To be submitted to SUNTA and SMA by March 1
for consideration as a possible invited session
- Sarah Willen, PhD, MPH (Departments of Anthropology and Social Medicine &
Global Health, Harvard University – sarah_willen at hms.harvard.edu)
- Heide Castañeda, PhD, MPH (Department of Anthropology, University of South
Florida – hcastane at cas.usf.edu)
WORKING ABSTRACT (to be modified once papers are in)
This double panel aims to stimulate empirically grounded,
critical dialogue about a burgeoning yet insufficiently addressed global
health challenge: unauthorized (i.e., “undocumented” or “illegal”) migrants’
and immigrants’ need for – and generalized lack of access to – needed health
care services both in the United States and around the globe. The
conjunction between unauthorized migrants’ pressing health needs, on one
hand, and their widespread lack of health care options, on the other, raises
a wide array of unresolved questions and dilemmas in the domains of
politics, public policy, health economics, and ethics. Since medical
anthropologists are uniquely positioned to illuminate these concerns and,
furthermore, to help shape and ground public discussion of these issues, the
time is ripe for a consolidated, critical exploration of the “ends” of
anthropology in the arena of unauthorized migration and health.
This panel will explore the current and potential roles of
critical medical anthropologists of im/migration in gathering and analyzing
both case-specific and comparative data; identifying key practical and
ethical challenges and dilemmas that demand ethnographic attention;
elucidating the potential policy relevance of our work; making our findings
and recommendations visible and accessible to anthropologists and
non-anthropologists alike; and participating in – and initiating –
multi-stakeholder conversations about (a) why the issue of unauthorized
im/migration and health is a crucial national, as well as global, health
concern, and (b) how to conceptualize and address its theoretical practical,
and ethical dimensions. We invite papers that tackle questions like the
* Is there a universal “right to health” that applies to unauthorized
* Are unauthorized migrants, and/or their children, entitled to health
care within host societies? If so, then:
- What are the legal, political, economic, and/or ethical grounds of
- To what forms of care are unauthorized migrants entitled (i.e.,
comprehensive health care? a basic or limited basket of services?)?
- Who is responsible for providing unauthorized migrants with health
- Who is responsible for paying for these services, and how should
payment be coordinated?
* How are matters of unauthorized migration and health represented in
public and political debate?
* What are the medical and humanitarian implications of stepped-up
border control and law enforcement?
* What are the health effects of uncertain legal status?
* What fears do unauthorized migrants harbor upon accessing/attempting
to access health care? Are these fears substantiated?
* How are unauthorized im/migrants actually attending to their health
care needs? What forms of care are available in different migration
settings? Which providers/health care institutions are they consulting; how
do they learn about and interact with these providers; and to what extent do
these arrangements meet im/migrants’ needs?
* What are the personal and public health ramifications of delays in
* What public health threats are generated by the denial of health care
to unauthorized im/migrants and other uninsured/underinsured groups?
* What are the implications of the deportation of uninsured migrants by
health care institutions and/or government authorities?
* Who is lobbying for or against migrants’ health rights? What are these
actors’ arguments, agendas, objectives, audiences, and coalition partners?
* How do answers to these questions vary across “receiving” countries?
Overall, this panel is designed to launch a wider conversation among
anthropologists and colleagues in other fields about crucial questions of
citizenship, social contracts, human rights, community welfare, health
disparities, and equity.
Sarah S. Willen, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology
Sarah_Willen at hms.harvard.edu
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