Casting Aside Bent Bodies: Embodied Violence as an Everyday Experience for Filipino Migrant Seafarers

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Abstract

This research traces the intersections of migrant citizenship and political economic practices in regards to the health worlds of Filipino migrant seafarers as one potential way to understand how structural and symbolic violence is embodied. Through structural violence, seafarers are held responsible for their health and well-being and through symbolic violence, they become complicit in the systems that oppress them. Using a critical medical humanities approach, I question the historical, social, economic, and political production of injury, illness, and death to understand why seafarers do not have de facto access to their de jure health rights. The work comes out of a one-year photo-ethnography with Filipino migrant seafarers who live and work on a vessel that docks between a Gulf of Honduras port and Gulf of Mexico port. My site of study was the vessel, which flies a flag of convenience, travels in international waters, and has an all-Filipino crew. I focused my research on the history of colonialism, political economic shifts in the recognition and regulation of international and national policy, and the everyday practices of seafarers. Health prevention was analyzed through the discourse of power distribution instead of risk and disease. I posit that the health inequities that follow precarious employment for seafarers are produced through the discourse of economic and social policies that are inscribed onto the body and conclude with new paths for this research within nonacademic and academic settings.

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violence, migration, labor, health, structural violence, symbolic violence, seafarers, health policy, ethnography
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