Collection of Engaged Learning

Engaged Learning Collection

Office of Engaged Learning


Im/migration discourses, particularly those that emphasize migrants’ pursuit of a higher standard of living, bear upon the provision and/or denial of human rights while tending to oversimplify migrants’ arrival as the end of the struggle. In receiving countries, the availability of and proper access to health care become contentious because immigrants are often denied a status—whether that of citizenship, legality, or asylum—that denotes not only their ability to participate within a political system, but also their “deservingness” of state health services. Citing my ethnographic research with a population of francophone Congolese immigrants in Hurst, Texas, this paper argues that anthropology must consider the embodied experience of these populations in their interaction with American health care policies. In particular, my research reveals that self-perceived indications of “moral worth,” framed by what services immigrants are and are not granted, are relevant for determining how subjective factors affect real health care provision. This research expands upon the work of anthropologists such as Willen (2012) who argue that the status of “illegality” plays a role in whether a group is deemed unworthy of care: furthermore, legal immigrants share a similar sense of exclusion and, often, similarly devastating circumstances.