SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Diaspora and Disease: A Conference

Various Speakers

Date: 31 March 2005Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 1 April 2005Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Type of Event: Conference

The aim of this conference is to bring about discussion between those conducting research in Diaspora Studies and the Anthropology of Public Health and Medicine. The movement of people has long been associated with the spread of disease and infections. In light of this, we are concerned with the role of medical knowledge and practices in relation to Diaspora communities, and how these discourses have contributed to the perception of diaspora populations by host society, and helped shape wider questions of belonging and citizenship. We aim to look at these questions in their historical context, both in their continuities and discontinuities, emphasising the importance of this to an understanding of current practices. Circuits of migration, and connected medical practices are taking new forms, where, on the one hand migrants are still associated with disease and pollution, but migrants are also increasingly staffing the infrastructure of western public health services. At the same time, the west can no longer lay claim to 'superior' biomedical provision. These shifts signal new directions in the relationship between medical discourse and diasporic 'others', giving rise to a contradictory language of migrants being seen as both a threat, and a solution to the 'health of the nation'.

Convened by Parvathi Raman (SOAS) and Ian Harper (University of Edinburgh)


Day 1: Thursday 31th March
Time Event
9:30-10:00 Coffee and Registration
10:00-10:30 Welcome and Introductory remarks, Paru Raman, SOAS
Panel 1: Historical perspectives

Discussant: Paru Raman, SOAS

  • Cristiana Bastos, University of Lisbon and Brown University Migrants, settlers and Colons: The biomedicine of displaced bodies
  • Tanja Bukovcan, University of Zagreb 'Healthy' to be American: Croatian immigrants and Ellis Island Practices
  • Peter Loizos, London School of Economics Hidden Injuries of Forced Migration: Long Term IDPs in S. Cyprus
12:30-14:00 Lunch
Panel 2: Questions of identity

Discussant: Stefan Ecks, University of Edinburgh

  • Dianna J. Shandy, Macalester College and David V. Power, University of Minnesota The Birth of the African-Irish Diaspora: Pregnancy and Post-Natal Experiences of African Immigrant Women in Ireland
  • Alison Shaw, University of Oxford Genetic disease and diasporic identity: Pakistanis in Western Europe
  • Albert Doja, University of Limerick, Ireland Body and mind: Albanian representations and strategies of health and illness in migration context
16:00-16:30 Tea / coffee
Panel 3: Assimilation

Discussant: Dr Andrew Irving, SOAS

  • Anna Waldstein. University of Kent Do assimilation and increased access to medical services always improve health in diaspora populations? Knowledge, culture and health in a Mexican migrant community.
  • Laura Griffith. University of Sussex Bangladeshi mothers and 'cultural sensitivity' in the UK health services
  • Jody Lawrence, The University of Auckland Health practices & knowledge in the Somalia diaspora: Transformation & reclamation
19:00 Conference Dinner
Day 2: Friday 1st April
Time Event
Panel 4: The politics of infection

Discussant: Ian Harper, University of Edinburgh

  • Audrey Prost, University College London Stages of contagion: The politics of declaring TB status among Tibetan refugees in India and afield.
  • Jody Lawrence, Robin Kearns, Julie Park, Judith Littleton and Linda Bryder, The University of Auckland
    Tuberculosis & immigration: A renewed threat to public health in New Zealand?
  • France Maphosa, University of Zimbabwe Labour Migration and HIV and AIDS: The Case of Mangwe District in Southern Zimbabwe
11:00-11:30 Tea / coffee
Panel 5: Globalisation and diaspora

Discussant: Dr James Staples, SOAS

  • Debra Budiani, University of Michigan Quests for Refuge, Quests for Therapy: Displacement, Illness, and the Body in Urban Egypt
  • Martha Chinouya, Eileen O'Keefe and Livingstone Musoro, London Metropolitan University
    Diaspora, stigma and viruses: black Africans in leafy English suburbs
  • Madelina Florescu, SOAS European Public Health in Contemporary Romania: gender and ethnicity, poverty and accountability
13:30-14:30 Lunch

General discussion

Chair: Ian Harper


Concluding remarks

Christopher Davis, SOAS