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Article
The Clinical Gaze in the Practice of Migrant Health: Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the United States
Social Science & Medicine (2012)
  • Seth M. Holmes, PhD, MD, University of California - Berkeley
Abstract

This paper utilizes eighteen months of ethnographic and interview research undertaken in 2003 and 2004 as well as follow-up fieldwork from 2005 to 2007 to explore the sociocultural factors affecting the interactions and barriers between U.S. biomedical professionals and their unauthorized Mexican migrant patients. The participants include unauthorized indigenous Triqui migrants along a transnational circuit from the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, to central California, to northwest Washington State and the physicians and nurses staffing the clinics serving Triqui people in these locations. The data show that social and economic structures in health care and subtle cultural factors in biomedicine keep medical professionals from seeing the social determinants of suffering of their unauthorized migrant patients. These barriers lead clinicians inadvertently to blame their patients – specifically their biology or behavior – for their suffering. This paper challenges the focus of mainstream cultural competency training by showing that it is not the culture of the patient, but rather the structure and culture of biomedicine that form the primary barriers to effective multicultural health care.

Keywords
  • Migration,
  • Immigration,
  • Migrant,
  • Farmworker,
  • Clinic,
  • Physicians,
  • Mexico,
  • United States
Publication Date
2012
Citation Information
Seth M. Holmes. "The Clinical Gaze in the Practice of Migrant Health: Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the United States" Social Science & Medicine Vol. 74 Iss. 6 (2012)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/holmes/1/