Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences

Entangled Inequalities: Intersectional Approaches Towards Public Health Crises

Chair: Syntia Hasenöhrl (University of Vienna)
Co-Chairs: Dovaine Buschmann (University of Vienna), Rachael Diniega (University of Vienna)

Romeo Luis A. Macabasag (University of the Philippines, Manila)
Kisley Di Giuseppe (Freelance researcher)
Kudus Oluwatoyin Adebayo (Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria)
Dhan Zunino Singh (CONICET, National University of Quilmes, Argentina)

Therapeutic (Im)Mobilities of Filipino nurses in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Romeo Luis A. Macabasag

The idea of therapeutic mobility argues that the movements of health-related things and beings (e.g. patients, healthcare providers, health products) may generate therapeutic effects or unfold therapeutic powers. Within this literature, immobilities are depicted either as an incapacity to be mobile or as a capacity to stay. These immobilities are understood as part of multiple and contingent (im)mobilities that constitute therapeutic mobilities. In this presentation, I demonstrate how choosing to be immobile can also be therapeutic, even when one can move, and mobility seems more beneficial. First, I explore the case of aspiring and returning Filipino nurse migrants, whose employment-related emigration – under the guise of health security and nationalism – was affected by the border closures and overseas health worker deployment ban. These stranded Filipino nurses chose to remain at home instead of heeding the government's call to work in local COVID-19 referral facilities. I discuss how these stranded nurses considered their immobility as a mechanism to resist and protect themselves from exploitation. Staying at home re-echoed and amplified Filipino nurses' long-standing call for proper work compensation, permanent employment, and a healthy working environment. These stranded nurses' immobility also helped them stabilize their subject position as aspirational or returning migrant nurses. Second, in comparison with Filipino nurses who responded to the government's call to move and work in COVID-19 referral facilities, I found that therapeutic immobilities may also be subject to power inequalities. Some nurses can choose immobility, while others do not have such capacity. Reflecting on the overall experiences of these Filipino nurses, I offer some preliminary thoughts on the therapeutic capacities of immobilities and how public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic may accentuate or complicate uneven access to the therapeutic capacities of (im)mobilities.

Romeo Luis A. Macabasag is a Project Research Associate at the University of the Philippines in Manila. He is part of a collaborative project that examines the (im)mobilities of nurses and cruise ship workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As a nurse himself caught in the decline of overseas nursing opportunities, one of Luis’ research interests is the experiences of internationally immobile healthcare providers and their internal mobility within the Philippines. Luis has co-authored papers on this topic and has published in the journal International Migration Review and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

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You Are not Alone! Experiences of LGBTQ+ Migrants in the UK during Covid-19 Lockdown. A Minority Stress Perspective

Kisley Di Giuseppe

Past research has raised concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable individuals’ wellbeing, and specifically how this has exacerbated the social isolation of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers/refugees who force-migrated due to well-founded fear of persecution. The post-migration issues of exclusion and isolation, resulting from the intersecting stigma associated with their non-conforming sexuality, racial and migration status, are not new to this population. This study used Meyer’s minority stress model to explore how LGBTQ+ migrants navigated the structural discrimination presented within the system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, it explored how the Zoom social support provided by Say It Loud Club, a UK-based LGBTQ+ organisation, helped to address the aforementioned intersecting stigmas. This study is community-based. Twenty-seven participants took part in 4(x2) follow-up focus-groups to investigate the impacts of both COVID-19 and the organisation’s social support. The analysis used instrumental case study approach drawn on existing theory for an explanatory purpose. Findings revealed that, like other vulnerable populations in the UK, LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees faced similar stressors during lockdown (Isolation, financial constraints and mental health issues). As expected, participants’ sexual minority identity led to additional stressors related to homophobia and the double-marginalisation and discrimination from both their own diaspora communities and local government. Further empirical evidence shows that having social support tailored to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ migrants addressed social isolation and marginalisation, and enhanced sense of belonging, acceptance and resilience, while providing skills and knowledge building in terms of sexuality and in accessing healthcare and local resources.

Kisley Di Giuseppe is a UK-based freelance researcher in the field of social sciences and psychology. As part of the process of successfully completing the MA in Special and Inclusive Education (Roehampton University) and the MSc in Psychology (Kingston University), he developed a special interested in both qualitative and quantitative research methodology, culminating by successfully completing further training in Mixed Methods in Health Research (Oxford University). His keen interest in studying social marginalities assisted him in developing his career researching ethnic minority groups in relation to issues such as: HIV prevention, Sexuality, and Migration.

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Beyond Spaces of Disease Outbreak? Epidemics, Race, and African Immigrants in China

Kudus Oluwatoyin Adebayo

Immigrants from countries experiencing disease outbreaks face stigmatization, discrimination and racism in their host communities. However, an explanation of anti-migrant sentiments and behaviors which draws principally from where diseases originated ignores the endearing structured and institutionalized exclusion and marginalization of people considered as different and foreign, which ultimately shape the construction of their communities as diseased and dangerous. The present article discusses this issue in light of the growing field of ‘Africans in China’ studies and the recent pandemic-induced racism and discrimination against African immigrants in Chinese cities. It relies on ‘Ebola experience’ interviews conducted with Nigerians in Guangzhou back in 2017 and Covid-19 data from media reports, social media archive and ethnographic analysis covering April to June 2020. Unlike EVD, Covid-19 did not originate from Africa yet produced the same effect of discrimination, racism and xenophobia against African immigrants in Guangzhou city. The patterned responses of anti-African sentiments, racist flair-ups and tightening/closing of social space against people of African origin in China during disease outbreaks transcend the spatial and temporalities of diseases. However, they reveal historical and socio-cultural tendencies, as well as the under-acknowledged challenge of racism in contemporary China. The article contributes to the literature by examining the question of racial discrimination and the construction of ‘dangerous African immigrant community’ within the new geography of Afro-mobilities in East Asia.

Kudus Oluwatoyin Adebayo is a Research Fellow in the Diaspora and Transnational Studies program of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His recent articles, which appeared in Migration Studies and International Sociology, examined Nigerian migrations to China, with specific engagement with issues of settlement, race, interracial family dynamics, child upbringing and return. He is interested in international migration and diaspora, knowledge production, and urban studies.

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»Immobility is healthy«: Risky Mobility of the Delivery Service in Buenos Aires During the Pandemic (and Beyond)

Dhan Zunino Singh

To »stay home, stay safe« during pandemic times required the mobilization of things and people. If immobility became the way of staying safe, mobility implied risks since humans are the transport mode of the Covid-19. Due to the strict quarantine applied in Buenos Aires in March 2020, the delivery service (young people, most migrants, riding bikes) organized by global apps were among the few people circulating through the streets. The pandemic made them more visible and necessary: demand grew and, also, the offer (it was the only job for many). But it also showed the existing precarious work and mobility conditions (low earning, accidents, no social insurance, no health safety) of the delivery boys and girls who, unlike health or security staff, were not recognized as »essential«. This presentation aims to discuss how the safe immobility of the majority during quarantine implied the (risky) circulation of others, revealing and stressing a preexisting mobility regime shaped by a new consumption pattern (fast food/goods at home). This pattern is based on uneven entanglement of (im)mobility. Delivery is tackled here as a mobile infrastructure, essential (for urban economy or pandemic times) but frail, that make possible things circulating withing the city.

Dhan Zunino Singh is an Associate Researcher at CONICET, National University of Quilmes, Argentina. He is a sociologist (University of Buenos Aires) and obtained his PhD in History at the University of London. He works on cities, mobilities and culture. He is associate editor of the Journal of Transport History, co-editor of the mobility handbook Términos clave para los estudios de movilidad en América Latina (Biblos, 2018).

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