Milena A. Melo

Mellon Resident Scholar


Enacting Life: Dialysis Among Undocumented Mexican Immigrants in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Milena MeloMilena Melo© School for Advanced ResearchMilena Melo© School for Advanced Research

Federal policy classifies undocumented immigrants in the United States as ineligible for the majority of publicly funded healthcare services by virtue of their legal status. As a result, those with chronic, debilitating illness struggle to find adequate treatment for life-threatening conditions. Dr. Melo’s project follows the treatment experiences of one such population that political regimes of power situate at the fringes of the U.S. healthcare system: undocumented Mexican immigrants in South Texas who suffer from end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Using two years of participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and case studies, Melo examines how members of this marginalized population act in creative, intentional ways to access healthcare resources largely denied to them. This ethnography builds on existing scholarship in the anthropology of health, human rights, immigration, and biopolitics that considers how categories of exclusion in policy affect immigrant subjects in ways that produce or prolong social and/or physical suffering.

Affiliation at time of award:
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, Mississippi State University

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