“Our Misery Was Great”: Narratives of Suffering and Resilience as Windows on Immigrant Health in the United States, Past and Present


Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowships


History and Sociology of Science


For residence at Puentes de Salud, Philadelphia, PA


Immigration is displacement, upheaval. Long, uncertain journeys expose migrants to danger, privation, and stress. Hostility and even violence often greet them upon arrival. The health risks of immigration have been well documented. But immigration is not a single event; rather, it is part of a life course marked by serial mobility and ongoing connections between place of origin and destination. This project, undertaken in partnership with the pioneering clinic and community development organization Puentes de Salud in Philadelphia, draws on individual and collective narratives as a tool to reveal the sometimes hidden social determinants of health among immigrant communities past and present. Researchers can now quantify the health effects of factors ranging from unemployment and racial discrimination to social cohesion and political empowerment. Stories, examined carefully, can show us how these factors operate on a human scale, and how they have shaped and reshaped American society for centuries.