A MULTILEVEL FRAMEWORK EXPLORING
TRANSNATIONALISM, CULTURE & HEALTH
By Linda Sprague Martinez, PhD, Rosalyn Negron, PhD, and Eduardo Siqueira, ScD, MD,
Anthropologists have developed common definitions of culture that emphasize its different dimensions, including traditions and customs, webs of meaning, cultural cognition, and tools for ecological adaptation. But, even amidst that variety of focus, there is some consensus among scholars that culture is learned and shared, providing a guide for our lives in society.
Adding to the difficulty of conceptualizing culture is the fact that it is dynamic, changing, and evolves over the course of a person’s life and also across subsequent generations. In today’s highly complex and globalized world, our study of culture must incorporate analytical and methodological approaches that account for the ways in which cultures are continually being re-shaped to reflect the impact of the global movement of people, technology, information, and capital.
Globalization impacts local cultural practices and beliefs through the transformation of neighborhood dynamics, as well as interpersonal processes, and shapes access to information, ideas, and images for cultural production and reproduction. We see this quite clearly in transnational communities where innovative, mixed and fluid cultural practices, and understandings emerge as immigrants maintain strong bonds with their homeland and their new country, and among groups with a common homeland spread out over multiple diasporic locations.
This poses clear challenges to health researchers working to understand and trace the influence of culture on health and well-being. Robust methods that integrate multiple levels of the dynamics of culture are needed if culture and its relationship to the health and well-being of individuals and communities are to be fully understood. These levels include:
- The culturally determined knowledge and beliefs of individuals and their agency or cultural cognition;
- The social networks that constitute individuals’ immediate social environments and that thus are sites for the activation of cultural knowledge and the performance of cultural markers; and
- Macro-level forces and processes that drive, population movement, opportunity and resource access, and policies. These macro-level factors shape social networks at the community level, which in turn mold individual behavior and beliefs.
In light of this, our Aqui Lá project – which is supported by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health – is working with a multilevel framework to conceptualize the impact of culture and transnationalism on health. Aqui Lá, meaning Here and There, is the story of many Brazilian and Dominican transnationals who are living emotionally, socially, and in some cases, physically between two nations. We explore the notion that health behaviors and attitudes are influenced by both transnational and local ecologies.
To explore the multiple levels shaping culture among Brazilian and Dominican transnationals, our interdisciplinary team employed several data collection methods. During cultural conversations, steeped in critical pedagogy, participants explored attributes of the cultures they belong to, and engaged in lively discussions about shared experiences of cultural adaptation, transnational practices, and health concerns.Egocentric social network interviews allowed us to visualize and explore socially grounded practices which included transnational movement and activities, individual and group-level performance of cultural beliefs and behaviors, and interpersonal influences on health beliefs and behaviors.
In the Figure 1, we show a network visualization of a Brazilian transnational. The green nodes signify contacts in Brazil and the red are contacts in the US. The figure illustrates that the person’s network spans the US and homeland and that, with the exception of 2 isolates on the left, some transnational integration exists between network members. Finally, using Photovoice, we explored elements of participants’ living and social environments that influence cultural practices. For Dominicans, neighborhood violence and racial discrimination in the work and broader community environments emerged as salient themes. For Brazilians, broad comparisons between Brazilian and US culture and regional aspects of Brazilian culture emerged as salient themes.
A better understanding of the multi-faceted influences of culture on transnational populations will lead to better health and well-being for these groups.
Source: The OBSSR CONNECTOR, NIH
Haciendo click en cada uno de los links siguientes,
accederán a los Contenidos de nuestros
TALLERES DE CAPACITACIÓN IN COMPANY "A MEDIDA"
de las necesidades de su Organización
(written in spanish, translator on page)