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“Putting Band-Aids on Things That Need Stitches”

Thurka Sangaramoorthy selected for American Anthropological Association's Rudolf Virchow Award

Faculty Associate Thurka Sangaramoorthy’s paper “Putting Band-Aids on Things That Need Stitches: Immigration and the Landscape of Care in Rural America” will receive the American Anthropological Association’s Rudolf Virchow award in the professional category. The paper draws upon interviews and observations on Maryland’s Eastern Shore describing how increased immigration to that area has intensified health-care precarity and limited access to public resources. During recent years, this area has experienced reductions in hospitals, lowered Medicare reimbursement for providers, and consolidation of health-care delivery because of care organization decisions. Undocumented immigrants have undertaken care for individuals who are left out of health care because of their legal status in the US. Thus, immigrants and frontline providers are left with improvised ways of caregiving and tend to engage in informal transactions to navigate their needs, such as bartering, hoarding, rationing, willful noncompliance, and others. Consequently, these so-called informal transactions act as “band-aids”, delivering health care as certain kinds of social membership exacerbating poor health among those in need.

Sangaramoorthy finds that “band-aid care, has an emancipatory effect in that it allows providers and immigrants the potential to refuse capitalist rhythms of American health care by conferring a sense of sociality and interdependence, reinscribing place value to rural spaces and shifting the possibilities of living precarity.”

See the article (may be paywalled for non-academic viewers)