Negotiating Professionalism, Economics and Moral Obligation: An Appeal for Ethnographic Approaches to African Medical Migration

In: African Diaspora
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology, University of Florida Tington Hall Rm 1112, PO Box 117305, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA, Email: acacia@ufl.edu
  • 2 Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin Landoltweg 9-11, 14195 Berlin Germany, Email: hansjoerg.dilger@berlin.de
  • 3 Department of Anthropology, University of Florida Tington Hall Rm 1112, BO Box 117305, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA, Email: davidg77@ufl.edu

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Abstract

This article provides a preliminary framework of useful methodologies and topics for future ethnographic research on medical migration from Africa to North America. We argue that medical professionals’ migrations must be understood in terms of their multiple struggles for meaning as they negotiate their professional and personal preferences in light of their desires to help rebuild ailing medical systems in their countries of origin. Our ethnographic interviews suggest that networks and family have been of critical importance to medical mobility, as well as providing a potential means of continued involvement in philanthropic investments in their countries of origin. Ultimately, we argue that economic perspectives on medical migration are insufficient, and leave out the complexities of balancing professionalism, personal goals and moral obligation to the country of origin.

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