Transnational lives, travelling emotions and idioms of distress among Bolivian migrants in Spain
Bifocality, Bolivian Migrants, Emotions, Healing, Secrecy, Spain, Transnational Lifestyles
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
This article examines the emotional and health impacts that immigration to Spain has on Bolivian families. We explore transnational preventive and healing activities deployed in Spain and Bolivia to allay emergent anxieties, frustrations and illnesses. Although undocumented migrants have access to a universal public health system, they adopt pluralistic approaches to healing, combining traditional and biomedical treatments. An understanding of these healing strategies requires attention to how emotions and their embodiment are experienced in the context of immigration. We propose a theoretical framework which draws upon a constructivist approach to emotions and expand its potential by linking it to influences of transnational lifestyles and bifocality. Preoccupation and sorrow are considered key etiological agents for many illnesses in the Andes and therefore migrants are particularly mindful about how their own suffering abroad affects vulnerable relatives in Bolivia. Communication between migrants and relatives is permeated by white lies, non-disclosure or blatant suppression of information about illnesses or personal difficulties. Migrants rely on particular relatives to access transnational healing methods, while simultaneously concealing information about their health from others. A migrant's health experiences are thus constrained not only by difficulties with the public health system but also by emotional considerations that span informal transnational networks. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
Escandell, Xavier and Tapias, Maria, "Transnational lives, travelling emotions and idioms of distress among Bolivian migrants in Spain" (2010). Faculty Publications. 2122.