The Embodiment of Precarious Migratory Status: How Latina Women Talk About the Social and Health Impact of “Las Puertas Cerradas” (closed doors) When Seeking Asylum in Canada
Methods: This participatory action research project is guided by feminist, anti-oppression and decolonizing principles. Between July 2011 and March 2012, we conducted conversational interviews with 25 Spanish-speaking women from Mexico, Colombia and Central America who were recruited through community-based organizations in Toronto. Post-interview notes and English translations of interview transcripts were entered into HyperRESEARCH qualitative data management software to facilitate data management and analysis. Using semiotic and post-structural theories of discourse, we explore in what ways speakers’ language use produces identities, or rather subject-positions within dominant and counter-narrative discourses (Allen 1995). We also draw from hermeneutic and interpretive phenonmenology to explore how women’s ways of knowing (epistemology) (Benner, 1994) about health and well-being are discursively produced with regard to their migratory status.
Results: Women spoke of “las puertas cerradas” (closed doors) when discussing their inability to enter certain spaces, access health care, and have their needs met due to limitations imposed by their immigration status. We conceptualize in what ways women embodied the ontological insecurity through exploring how women talk about: 1) the psychological impact of facing structural oppression (e.g. institutional racism and policy discrimination), 2) the social and psychological impact of being denied access to services, and 3) the interconnected challenges women experience as a result of facing “closed doors” (e.g. unemployment, exploitation, homelessness, isolation, and violence). Our analysis of the embodiment of “puertas cerradas” seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of the mental impact that denied access to health, legal and social services has for women with precarious migratory status in North America.