Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Political Economy of Health; Critical Medical Anthropology; Health and Immigration; Health and Human Rights

Major Advisor

Dr. Merrill Singer

Associate Advisor

Dr. Sarah Willen

Associate Advisor

Dr. Karen Breda

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Using the framework of critical medical anthropology “Health Care Experiences of the Uninsured at the Dawn of the 21st Century” investigates how those lacking health insurance in a U.S. mid-sized northeastern city strive to meet their health care needs. Fieldwork was based on in-depth semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and demographic data of patients who sought care at a non-government, non-profit primary care mobile health clinic, between November 2012 and July 2013. In addition to exploration of health care seeking strategies, I investigated how migration issues played an important role in the health and health care experiences of participants since 80% were born in another country. These participants exhibited symptoms of migration trauma to various degrees. Their narratives described their anxiety, stress, and frustration as they struggled to meet family and financial obligations and the impacts these had on their health and well-being. Participants also explained how they utilized their support networks to overcome the financial and health care challenges they faced and described their views about the differences between right and deservingness in health care. This work highlights how individuals from this particularly vulnerable population experience the political economic forces that are behind the social origins of disease, and how migration also impacts health. It also sheds light on shortcomings of current biomedical system ideology, policies and practices and highlights participants’ sufferer experiences, and their medical pluralism practices.