Panel Proposal: Immigration and Mental Health in the Age of Trump
Organizers: Megan Carney (Assistant Professor, University of Arizona) & Thurka Sangaramoorthy (Assistant Professor, University of Maryland)
The rhetoric around Trump’s presidency overlaps with and mimics much of the language that has been historically employed to exclude or deem immigrants unworthy of formal belonging, especially in the United States. Incendiary words and phrases grounded in the notions of “unfit” and “undesirable” that we often associate with poor physical or mental health status of individuals, communities, and entire societies are reminiscent of the language used by nativists and racists in the early 20th century against Eastern and Southern Europeans and Asians.
Accusations of mental instability waged at both the current U.S. presidential administration (e.g., “deranged dotard,” “unfit for office,” “crazy,” “malignant narcissist”) and large segments of the population that it governs (e.g., “savage sicko,” “dangerous,” “wacko,” “unstable”) have engendered moral and material effects about the ways which we collectively perceive and address mental health. Such vernacular highlight broader social concerns about the pervasiveness of negative connotations related to an individual or group’s out-of-the-ordinary behavior or mental state. These modes of expression perpetuate the social stigma that people with mental illness are inferior and unworthy of care and compassion.
Concomitantly, the policies enacted and proposed by this current administration have translated to very real mental distress within the population at large, and especially among individuals with precarious legal status or those who may be targeted by detention and deportation (i.e., immigrants and refugees with temporary legal status, individuals with DACA, unauthorized immigrants, and immigrants from one of the banned countries). In this panel, we seek to explore how this psychosocial distress might be silenced or overlooked given the everyday abstractions of U.S. national politics, the normalization of mental illness as it may undergird the current American political landscape, the medicalization of social response (i.e., anger, anxiety, frustration), and the concurrent sense of immobilization among many.
2018 AAA Annual Meeting information: