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Ethnographic Humanism

Migrant Experiences in the Quest for Well-Being

Anne Sigfrid Grønseth and Robin Oakley

The articles in this volume reinforce the power of ethnographic humanism, of anthropology in action. The focus is on the relationship between macro political forces and their influence on the varied experiences of health in advanced industrial capitalist contexts. Our approach views migrants as capable agents negotiating new lives for themselves and confronting the challenges they face. We strongly advocate socially informed policy that offers at minimum recognition to migrants as full fledged members of the new society that they have voluntarily or involuntarily migrated to.

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Stacy Lockerbie

Canada struggles to bolster immigration, especially in the Maritime Provinces that exist outside the current flow of migration to central or western Canada. Policy aimed at resolving this issue prioritizes practical and economic factors while ignoring the more subtle and personal facets of the decision to migrate. In this article, policy is coupled with human experience to inform new directions in research and implementation. The landscape of food and eating is the centre point of my analysis because shops and restaurants catering to Asian foods play important roles in constructing an environment favourable to immigration. Indeed, my research participants used food as a means of expressing notions of well-being and feelings of 'home' in a new setting. With a focus on the foodscapes in Halifax, Nova Scotia this article explores the role of food in how Vietnamese immigrants experience life in the Canadian Maritimes.

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Jonathan Skinner

This is the first special issue of 2007, a double issue featuring an international range of contributors who have come together to examine social health and well-being amongst migrants. Not only do the contents of the articles have great integrity—in both senses of the word—but so too does their applied theoretical persuasion: ethnographic humanism. Collectively, these articles argue for anthropology to work sensitively, politically and personally with informants, to view them as ‘agentive selves’ who—in these cases— skillfully negotiate new lives for themselves in urban Western contexts.