Sangaramoorthy, Thurka. 2019. “Liminal Living: Everyday Injury, Disability, and Instability among Migrant Mexican Women in Maryland’s Seafood Industry.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 33(4): 557-578.
Mexican women constitute an increasing proportion of labor migrants to the United States. They are segregated into a handful of low‐wage occupations, disadvantaged by global economic forces and the social construction of gender within employment relations. Drawing on ethnographic research from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I explore experiences of everyday injury, disability, and instability among Mexican migrant women who work in the commercial crab processing industry, which is increasingly dependent on the H‐2B visa program to fill seasonal, non‐agricultural jobs. By focusing on the daily lives of Mexican migrant women who are part of this labor force, their health and social needs, and the gendered dimensions of labor migration, I document how temporary work programs institutionalize liminality as permanent mode of being. I suggest that migrant women, amid the extraordinary uncertainty brought about by the processes of recurrent migration, reorient and recalibrate themselves through modes of conduct to make life more ordinary.
Sangaramoorthy, Thurka, Amelia Jamison, and Typhanye Dyer. 2019. “Older African Americans and the HIV Care Continuum: A Systematic Review of the Literature, 2003–2018.” AIDS and Behavior 23(4): 973-983.
Evidence suggests that racial disparities in the HIV care continuum persist in older age groups, particularly among African Americans. The objective of this systematic review was to identify factors that facilitate or hinder older African Americans’ engagement in the HIV care continuum. For studies published between 2003 and 2018, we: (1) searched databases using keywords, (2) excluded non-peer-reviewed studies, (3) limited findings to older African Americans and the HIV care continuum, and (4) retrieved and summarized data focused on barriers and facilitators of the HIV care continuum. Among the 1023 studies extracted, 13 were included: diagnosis/testing (n = 1), engagement in care (n = 7), and antiretroviral adherence (n = 5). Barriers included lack of HIV risk awareness, routine testing, and healthcare access, stigma, and multimorbidities. Social support, health/medication literacy, and increased self-efficacy facilitated engagement. A targeted focus on older African Americans is needed to achieve national goals of improving HIV care and treatment outcomes.
Sangaramoorthy, Thurka. 2019. “Maryland is not for Shale: Scientific and public anxieties of predicting health impacts of fracking.” The Extractive Industries and Society 6(2): 463-470.
In 2011, Maryland established the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative to determine whether and how gas production in the state could be accomplished without causing unacceptable risks to public health, safety, natural resources, and the environment. This initiative required a statewide health impact assessment of unconventional natural gas development and production via hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking). Increasing number of studies have shown that fracking has significant potential to impact health and non-health outcomes. However, because of its rapid development, there is a lack of substantive research related to the public health effects of fracking. I discuss my firsthand experiences as a medical anthropologist and public health researcher on a multi-disciplinary research team tasked with conducting Maryland’s first health impact assessment to determine the potential public health impacts associated with fracking. I focus on how fracking, as a relatively new economically viable source of energy and an emergent focus of study, brings about public and scientific anxieties, and how these anxieties shape subsequent environmental and health policy decision making processes. I reflect on the potential role of social scientists in matters of scientific knowledge production and resulting policy decisions and the broader implications of such engagement for public social science.
RECENT TALKS AND PRESENTATIONS
Sangaramoorthy, T. “Intellectual Activism in Anthropology: Translation, Value, and the Politics of Engagement.” 2019 Sally Weaver Memorial Award Lecture. Department of Anthropology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. November 1, 2019.
Today, more than ever, anthropologists are utilizing their expertise to better inform policy and practice and contribute to social action. They are effectively translating complex issues into stories and ideas that resonate with a variety of audiences, including influential change makers. Sangaramoorthy discusses how her own work contributes to public conversations on some of the most pressing challenges facing us today such as migration, global health, environmental justice, health disparities, social injustice, and gender and racial inequities. She argues that intellectual activism, which places equal value in scholarship and activism, is critical to accelerating the ideas and the impact of anthropology within and beyond academia.
Sangaramoorthy, T. “MPAAC: Precarious Policies: Migrant Health in Times of Crisis and Rising Xenophobia.” American Anthropological Association Meeting, Vancouver, BC, Canada, November 20-24, 2019.
The global rise in illiberal migration policies and xenophobic rhetoric has brought about significant public policy, humanitarian, and human rights challenges. Yet, conceptual and methodological gaps continue to exist in the study of the policyscapes of migrant health. This has limited analysis of how migration processes create differential risks for migrants at different stages of mobility and settlement, expose intersecting inequalities, and result in exclusionary policies and institutional responses. As debates on global health governance and global migration expand and begin to converge in different policy spheres, there is a growing imperative for anthropologists to engage in dialogue to align priorities and coordinate responses to migration across regions. Anthropological work that addresses the complexities of circular migration and migrants’ vulnerabilities and agency have the potential to move policy dialogues on migration and health beyond narrow public health interventions and protectionist policies. This co-sponsored roundtable creates a platform for those engaged in migration and health scholarship and policy responses to share insights from the global North/South and beyond. We hope to draw on the collective experiences of prior and ongoing research projects, networks, and collaborations to examine what is known about migrant health and care and related policy discussions on health and social protections.
The roundtable represents an opportunity to develop research capacities, amplify methodological and empirical understandings, and engender scholarship and policy around migration, mobility, and health. Panelists will engage with one or more of the following questions: (1) What do we understand and know about migration and health and what crucial gaps remain in global/regional/national migration and health research? How can research link with policy makers/policy communities and communities of practice? (2) What political and ethical questions does researching migrants raise for anthropologists, advocates, and policy makers? (3) What methodological and conceptual interventions are/will be required to chart migration and health policyscapes? (4) How have engagements with policy moved beyond scholarship to critically engage in migration and health advocacy work through active participation in community and grassroots coalitions, local and national health and immigration initiatives, and interdisciplinary collaborations within and beyond the academy to curb repression and prevent the systematic targeting of particular marginalized groups? (5) How does migration and health advocacy and activism underscore incipient political, economic, and cultural dynamics that may prove influential for future generations of anthropologists involved with policy? (6) How have anthropologists and non-anthropologists engaged with the visions and the values promoted in future-oriented migration and health policies in their research and advocacy work- conceptually, empirically, practically?
Sangaramoorthy, T. “So you want your research in the NYTimes?: How to garner media and public interest in medical anthropology.” American Anthropological Association Meeting, Vancouver, BC, Canada, November 20-24, 2019.
This roundtable examines the role of health news in society and the interplay between anthropologists, the media, and broader audiences. Speakers will contribute to an engaged discussion on developing media interest, creating medical anthropological segments for public radio and news outlets, and understanding the ethical challenges and responsibilities of medical anthropologists to accuracy, inclusion, transparency, and accountability in the face of superficial soundbites and fake news. The conversation will engage medical anthropologists’ own experiences and challenges to promoting their work to the public, as well as provide tips and resources for anthropologists interested in having their research read by broader publics. The roundtable will seek to answer: How do I pitch my research to the media and non-anthropologists? How can I collaborate with journalists and editors so that the nuances of my ethnographic research aren’t reduced to just a soundbite? How can I clearly articulate anthropological theory and methods for a more public audience? What is the role of ethnographic storytelling? How can we better leverage various media formats to impact public health and clinical medicine? Taken together, the roundtable contributes to a timely conversation on bringing anthropological knowledge to inform public policy on critical issues in health.
Sangaramoorthy, T. Rapid assessment methods in linguistic anthropology. American Anthropological Association Meeting, Vancouver, BC, Canada, November 20-24, 2019.
The climate of professional anthropology is changing, increasingly recognizing the tension between the requirements of ethnographic data collection and our obligations as human beings embedded in other contexts and relationships. This roundtable explores critical perspectives on linguistic anthropology methods with the aim of developing a methodological framework for rapid assessment that retains the analytic strength of long-term fieldwork while being feasible in both “academic” and “applied” contexts. We also seek to destabilize the binary between “academic” and “applied” by providing a framework for linguistic ethnographic research that can be applied across both contexts, but also noting logistical differences between the two.
Rapid assessment methods provide an alternative to long-term fieldwork, long the unspoken norm in “academic” anthropology. This intervention is necessary because long-term fieldwork privileges researchers and respondents who are extricable from networks of responsibility. That is, the time commitment required of both researchers and respondents may exclude those with caregiving responsibilities, health needs, or immediate financial needs, among other types of responsibility. Long-term fieldwork is also rooted in the colonial gaze, and developing rapid assessment methods is a necessary step in decolonizing linguistic and cultural anthropology (cf. Murali & Shulist, 2017).
Reconsidering Migrant Health: Anthropologists in Conversation with Public Health Paradigms
Presented at the 2015 Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Ethnographies of Migrant Mental Health in the United States.
Presented at the 2016 Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.