Research Highlights: People on the Move

With record numbers of refugees worldwide along with the ease of international travel and communication, immigration, migration and globalization have become hot topics of debate in recent times. In this research highlight post, we look at some recent papers exploring these issues from various perspectives.

IJERPH-high-01Migrant Sexual Health Help-Seeking and Experiences of Stigmatization and Discrimination in Perth, Western Australia: Exploring Barriers and Enablers

Josephine Agu, Roanna Lobo,  Gemma Crawford, and Bethwyn Chigwada

Increasing HIV notifications amongst migrant and mobile populations to Australia is a significant public health issue. Generalizations about migrant health needs and delayed or deterred help-seeking behaviors can result from disregarding the variation between and within cultures including factors, such as drivers for migration and country of birth. This study explored barriers and enablers to accessing sexual health services, including experiences of stigma and discrimination, within a purposive sample of sub-Saharan African, Southeast Asian, and East Asian migrants. A qualitative design was employed using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. A total of 45 people with ages ranging from 18 to 50 years, participated in focus group discussions. Common barriers and enablers to help seeking behaviors were sociocultural and religious influence, financial constraints, and knowledge dissemination to reduce stigma. Additionally, common experiences of stigma and discrimination were related to employment and the social and self-isolation of people living with HIV. Overcoming barriers to accessing sexual health services, imparting sexual health knowledge, recognizing variations within cultures, and a reduction in stigma and discrimination will simultaneously accelerate help-seeking and result in better sexual health outcomes in migrant populations.

Religions_high-01The Dual Role a Buddhist Monk Played in the American South: The Balance between Heritage and Citizenship in the Refugee Community

Daniel Rhodes

Buddhist Monks in Vietnam struggle with cultural preservation differently from a monk in the U.S. where the forces of acculturation for new arrivals, often refugees, are extraordinarily overwhelming. The author provides a case study examining how Buddhist leaders engage in cultural preservation and community building in the American South. Fusing ideas of Engaged Buddhism and community building, the author will demonstrate how a Buddhist monk is able to navigate the broader American culture and assist Vietnamese immigrants and refugees to acculturate, while maintaining their own cultural heritage, beliefs and religious traditions; ultimately building a viable and sustainable Buddhist community that contributes greatly to its new host community.


Humanities_highThe Birth of Homo Colossus: Energy Consumption and Pre-Familiarization in Joel Barlow’s Vision of Columbus

Matthew Pangborn

Although Raymond De Young points out the current response to energy descent he terms localization “is not globalization in reverse”, the writers of modernity’s energy ramp-up used many of the same techniques De Young proposes for adapting to the downslope of M. King Hubbert’s fossil-fuels peak. Among these is pre-familiarization, the construction of mental models that “help people to feel at home in a place they have not yet inhabited.” Long before William Catton’s depiction of the West’s outsized energy user as Homo colossus, for example, Joel Barlow provided early national Americans with a reflection of themselves as gigantic consumers of the continent’s bounty in his 1787 Vision of Columbus. In the epic poem, Barlow puts in place foundational elements of the myth of progress that will develop with an increasingly extravagant energy consumption: a refutation of the classical republican model of history as cyclical; a conflation of the process of resource extraction with that of production; a characterization of this “production” as the natural trait of the knowledgeable, moral Western subject; the pairing of this characterization with a racialized discourse; and an assertion of climate melioration that anticipates by two centuries the counter-arguments of anthropogenic climate-change denialists. The poem invites its reader to inhabit the skin of a lofty and distanced observer of natural life, drawing on the earlier century’s infatuation with the prospect view, to help the reader become “pre-familiarized” with an idea of him- or herself fitting an economic model of endless growth. In the work, therefore, might be found not only the blueprints for an as-yet inchoate Anthropocene, but also the design of a new humanity to go along with it.