Medicalizing Ethnicity: The Construction of Latino Identity in a Psychiatric Setting (The Anthropology of Contemporary Issues)

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In Medicalizing Ethnicity, Vilma Santiago-Irizarry shows how commendable intentions can produce unintended consequences. Santiago-Irizarry conducted ethnographic fieldwork in three bilingual, bicultural psychiatric programs for Latino patients at public mental health facilities in New York City. The introduction of "cultural sensitivity" in mental health clinics, she concludes, led doctors to construct essentialized, composite versions of Latino ethnicity in their drive to treat mental illness with sensitivity. The author demonstrates that stressing Latino differences when dealing with patients resulted not in empowerment, as intended, but in the reassertion of Anglo-American standards of behavior in the guise of psychiatric categories by which Latino culture was negatively defined. For instance, doctors routinely translated their patients' beliefs in the Latino religious traditions of espiritismo and Santerķa into psychiatric terms, thus treating these beliefs as pathologies.Interpreting mental health care through the framework of culture and politics has potent effects on the understanding of "normality" toward which such care aspires. At the core of Medicalizing Ethnicity is the very definition of multiculturalism used by a variety of institutional settings in an attempt to mandate equality.

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"The major strength of this book is the high level of critical analysis demonstrated by the application of an anthropological perspective to the field of mental health. . . . This book represents an important contribution to the conceptualization and incorporation of culture in the field of mental health."―Noorfarah Merali, University of Alberta. Journal of International Migration and Integration

"There has been a need for a critical assessment of the essentialist and reductionist uses of the 'Latino' category in medical and mental health settings in the USA, and Santiago-Irizarry has provided us with it. . . . This book is a timely contribution to the medical anthropological field and the areas of Latino studies and the sociology of medicine."―Valetina Napolitano, University of Cambridge, Journal of Latin American Studies 35, 2003

"Santiago-Irizarry reminds her readers that incorporating the Spanish language and other tokens of Hispanic culture does not by itself improve psychiatric treatment."―Jorge Duany, CENTRO Journal, Vol. XV, No. 2, Fall 2003

"Timely, engaging, and well-written, Medicalizing Ethnicity is the only case study available of the paradoxes that emerge with the biologization of culture and ethnicity. With her masterful discussions on a broad range of important topics, Vilma Santiago-Irizarry's book will prove both controversial and essential."―Ana Ortiz, University of Arizona

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. In Medicalizing Ethnicity, Vilma Santiago-Irizarry shows how commendable intentions can produce unintended consequences. Santiago-Irizarry conducted ethnographic fieldwork in three bilingual, bicultural psychiatric programs for Latino patients at public mental health facilities in New York City. The introduction of cultural sensitivity in mental health clinics, she concludes, led doctors to construct essentialized, composite versions of Latino ethnicity in their drive to treat mental illness with sensitivity. The author demonstrates that stressing Latino differences when dealing with patients resulted not in empowerment, as intended, but in the reassertion of Anglo-American standards of behavior in the guise of psychiatric categories by which Latino culture was negatively defined. For instance, doctors routinely translated their patients beliefs in the Latino religious traditions of espiritismo and Santeria into psychiatric terms, thus treating these beliefs as pathologies.Interpreting mental health care through the framework of culture and politics has potent effects on the understanding of normality toward which such care aspires. At the core of Medicalizing Ethnicity is the very definition of multiculturalism used by a variety of institutional settings in an attempt to mandate equality. Seller Inventory # APC9780801487521

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