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PLACA presents: Kate Coddington Senner

341 Eggers Hall

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Research in Progress: Critical junctures between migration, law, and medicine in Guatemala A car accident in Arizona severely injured Antonio Torres, leaving him comatose and connected to a ventilator. Despite his status as a legal Mexican immigrant to the US, the hospital transferred him to a Mexican hospital because he could not pay for long-term care.1 Torres’ story demonstrates the critical juncture between the political and legal geographies that structured the borders Torres crossed—both as healthy farmworker and as comatose patient—and the medical geographies that delimitated his access to health care. The increasing numbers of vulnerable bodies caught in the nexus of boundaries, medical crises, and sustained bodily trauma raises important theoretical and practical questions about the nature of these geographical intersections. I traveled to Quetzaltenango and Todos Santos Cucumatán, Guatemala during the summer of 2009 to explore the connections between the medical, legal, and political geographies faced by migrants such as Torres. Previous research had familiarized me with Guatemala, where between 6,000-12,000 migrants make the dangerous journey to the US annually, many encountering medical crises such as robbery, abuse, or death by exposure. Less is known about flows in the other direction due to death and medical crises, and with this project I attempted to learn more about the connections between migration and medical crises. This paper presents the evolution of my research project, and addresses how fieldwork in Guatemala forced the re-articulation and potential re-siting of this research. 1 Sontag, D. (2008). Deported in a Coma, Saved Back in US. New York Times. New York. Refreshments will be served.


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