Storytelling, marginality, and community in Australia: how immigrants position their difference in health care settings

Med Anthropol. Jan-Mar 2003;22(1):1-21. doi: 10.1080/01459740306767.


Stories of conflict with hospital services, medical mismanagement, and negative outcomes of procedures and treatment circulate within immigrant communities. While the interpretations of medical events are often based on misperceptions and misunderstandings, the stories have instructional value in that they explain an unfamiliar system to new immigrants and provide starting points for advocacy for improved services. Our analysis of gossip and storytelling among women from the Horn of Africa involves an examination of stories of "pork injections," rejection of "black babies," and clinical incompetence. The data are drawn from a study of reproductive health and reproductive rights that was conducted among refugee and immigrant women from Sahel African and Middle Eastern communities in Melbourne, Australia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Eastern / ethnology
  • Australia
  • Community Health Services* / standards
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Folklore*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Islam / psychology
  • Middle East / ethnology
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Refugees / psychology
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Social Alienation / psychology*