Self-care at the margins: meals and meters in migrants' diabetes tactics

Med Anthropol Q. 2012 Dec;26(4):518-33. doi: 10.1111/maq.12005.


Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in 2006 and 2007, this article examines Turkish migrants' everyday practices of diabetes self-management in Berlin, Germany. To avoid diabetes complications, Turkish Berliners became self-carers who altered food choices, cooking and eating practices, and made their self-care practices visible with the help of blood sugar self-testing. Rather than representing the common image of the disadvantaged migrant patient they assumed the role of "expert patients" and their self-care was a deliberate practice to make their chronic illness experience manageable and tangible where formal support by the German healthcare system was inadequate. This article thus aims to interrogate both "self" and "care" in the context of "self-care at the margins" and draw on de Certeau's tactics of the ordinary person that make everyday life habitable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Medical
  • Berlin
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Disease Management
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Transients and Migrants / psychology*
  • Turkey / ethnology