Immigrants and Health Agency: Public Safety, Health, and Latino Immigrants in North Carolina (Working Paper #128)

Robert A. Donnelly

Abstract: This work examines the role played by health- and public safety-related discourses in the construction of governable subjects among settling Latino immigrants in contemporary central North Carolina. It proposes that health possesses a normalizing dimension that encourages the adoption of certain prescribed mindsets and practices, and that these outlooks and behaviors embody normative understandings of what it means “to be an American.” It draws on governmentality theory to demonstrate the ways in which neoliberal rationalities collaborate in this normalization process. By focusing on North Carolina, the research intends to examine how a state, where binary racial logics have historically prevailed and with minimal experience managing sizable non-Englishspeaking groups, interacts with a growing Latino population, much of it foreign-born and not fully bilingual. The research attempts to contribute to the literature by situating contemporary Latino settlement in North Carolina within the longer-range U.S. history of public health and immigration. It relies on results of ethnographic fieldwork, qualitative analysis of media articles, and interviews related to health and public safety discourses.

Working Paper #128 »