Roma and health care: a case study of reproductive health and cultural difference in Madrid (completed)

Beatriz Martín Aragón

My PhD research focused on Roma women’s experiences of reproductive health in the context of local structures of health care and in dynamic relation to the experience of health-care professionals working with Roma patients. The research aimed to disentangle the different factors that shape access to and the provision of health care for this group and the multiple ways in which notions of culture, diversity and ethnicity are used in clinical settings and biomedical research for and about Roma.

The project examines notions of cultural competence and diversity in health-care institutions. One of the objectives is to analyse what is conveyed by using culture as an analytical tool in biomedicine, when it becomes significant to note culture, and how it relates to other categories such ethnicity or race. I focused specifically on a culturally different group that has a special history and tradition in Spain, the Roma or Gitanos. On the one hand, I aimed to understand how, on the epistemological level, medical knowledge produces diversity by describing and classifying bodily differences based on cultural or ethnic categories. On the other hand, understanding the pragmatic significance of ideas such as culture or ethnicity in he everyday provision of health care was another objective of this project. In addition, I sought to understand better how those categorized in this way, in this case Roma women, perceive, interiorize or contest this knowledge.

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