Olivia Marcus on internet memes in an epidemic

Congratulations to our graduate student Olivia Marcus, leading author on a study just published in Media, Culture, & Society. The study was co-authored by UConn Anthropology professor Merrill Singer.
Loving Ebola-chan: Internet memes in an epidemic

Olivia Marcus, & Merrill Singer

In this article, the authors provide a layered analysis of Ebola-chan, a visual cultural artifact of the 2014–2015 Ebola outbreak. Rather than considering her as a two-dimensional anime character (i.e. as a simple iconic coping mechanism and/or a fear response), this recent Internet meme is analyzed using an integrated semiotic and structural approach that involves discussion of the genesis of disaster humor in light of the changing world of the Internet, the history of anthropomorphism of disease, and the biosocial nature of an infectious disease epidemic. Our analysis is designed to advance both the anthropology of the Internet and the anthropology of infectious disease. As a multi-vocal symbol with different meanings for different audiences, Ebola-chan represents a social response to a lethal epidemic in the digital age. …

New volume edited by Merrill Singer

Book EnviroHeath
A Companion to the Anthropology of Environmental Health

New volume edited by Merrill Singer entitled A Companion to the Anthropology of Environmental Health published by Wiley-Blackwell draws on theories from political ecology, ecobiosocial understanding, and ecosyndemic analysis. This volume brings together 23 chapters by anthropologists that examine how human health around the world is impacted by human interactions with the environment, including anthropogenic environmental restructuring that adversely impacts human wellbeing…

Sarah S. Willen on migration and health

UCONN Anthropology faculty Sarah S. Willen with a collective of authors just published a new article in Social Science and Medicine about migration as a social determinant of health.

Migration as a social determinant of health for irregular migrants: Israel as case study

Yonina Fleischman, Sarah S. Willen, Nadav Davidovitch, Zohar Mor

More than 150,000 irregular migrants reside in Israel, yet data regarding their utilization of and perceived barriers to health care services are limited. Drawing on semi-structured interviews conducted with 35 irregular migrant adults between January and September 2012, this article analyzes the role of migration as a social determinant of health for irregular migrants, and especially asylum seekers. We analyze two kinds of barriers faced by migrants when they attempt to access health care services: barriers resulting directly from their migration status, and barriers that are common among low-income communities but exacerbated by this status. Migration-related barriers included a lack of clear or consistent legislation; the threat of deportation; the inability to obtain work permits and resulting poverty and harsh living and working conditions; and discrimination. Barriers exacerbated by migrant status included prohibitive cost; poor and confusing organization of services; language barriers; perceived low quality of care; and social isolation. These findings support recent arguments that migrant status itself constitutes a social determinant of health that can intersect with other determinants to adversely affect health care access and health outcomes. Findings suggest that any meaningful effort to improve migrants’ health will depend on the willingness of clinicians, public health officials, and policymakers to address the complex array of upstream political and socio-economic factors that affect migrants’ health rather than focusing on narrower questions of access to health care.