Migration, transnationalism, illness and healing: toward the consolidation of the self among the Congolese diaspora in Boston and Lynn, MA
Major Diaz San Francisco, Carolina
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This thesis explores the perceptions of illness and healing among the Congolese diaspora in Boston and Lynn, MA, and within the contexts of migration and transnationalism. With this thesis, I argue that the Congolese who participated in this study perceive illness as social suffering, and healing as the consolidation of the self. Participants express their perceptions of illness and healing according to their identities, or the orientations of the self. Perceptions of illness were expressed as illness narratives framed under the theories of structural violence, and from the perspectives of the Congolese as displaced and migrant people. Congolese extend their perceptions of illness also to other non-Congolese communities they have come to belong to through transnational and global social formations. Congolese demonstrate that healing means the consolidation of their self, or identities, as Catholic Congolese in diaspora, advocates for refugees, African-Americans, Blacks, and “the Priest” in Lynn. Congolese emphasize that building and maintaining their newly acquired identities form part of their strategies to establish themselves in the USA, and bring healing to themselves and others. This exploration is limited, and thus, further research is recommended on: 1) other Congolese community groups; 2) the local and global Congolese diasporic activism for conflict resolution directed to the DRC; 3) practical proposals for collaborative research in order to resolve the socio-cultural and economic barriers that Congolese have in clinical settings.