MENTAL HEALTH INEQUITIES
My book project, Las Lloronas, stands at the intersection of lived experience and the various discourses about depression in the lives of U.S. Latinx women of Mexican descent. I argue that depression is not just bodily and psychic symptoms, but also a part of a genealogy of a complex interplay of emotional states, U.S. hegemonic femininities and other, often-contradictory, gendered impositions, collective sentiments rooted in specific socio-historical contexts, and struggles and anxieties of embodying intersectional subjectivities. This critical approach positions depression as an affective and embodied response to social dispossession, as well as a practice of continually reflecting on the source of one’s psychological pain. Inspired by Anzaldua’s (1987) call to create nuevas teorias (new theories) to better frame experiences defined by the multiple crossing of fronteras, Las Lloronas analyzes the meanings and interpretations of emotional distress attached to depression, and not just experiences associated with the biomedicalized label. In five data chapters, Las Lloronas puts forward a model that examines depression as an affective and embodied positionality and practice. This takes into account the role of societal dynamics as they intersect with emotions and subjectivities, taking into consideration trauma, social suffering connected to the current political moment, as related to various forms of violence. Each chapter outlines an analytical component of this model to illuminate the roles various social mechanisms and political forces have in shaping participants’ depression.
In collaboration with The Village Community Garden and Learning Center, I am the principal academic investigator on a community-based participatory research project to understand the role of community gardens in decreasing food insecurity and facilitating resilience in food-insecure groups in Rochester. In addition to mapping the psychosocial benefits, examining which forms of resilience are possible in community-based agricultural projects helps us address an important gap in academic literature. This can help us propose policy-level practices to reduce various forms of health inequities connected to food and nutrition. Using a mixed-method approach, we will examine the experiences of two food insecure communities in Rochester: current and new growers with VCGLC plots, and University of Minnesota-Rochester (UMR) students who currently supplement their vegetable and fruit intake with the help of the student food pantry. Data collected will help us accomplish two things:
- We will examine and use CBPR methods to disseminate information about how The Village assists others in planning and implementing similar community-based agricultural projects.
- Findings will give us the preliminary data to implement a larger intervention that foregrounds community-based agricultural initiatives as a model to improve health outcomes in food-insecure communities.
This research is supported by funds from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (Award Number UL1TR002494) and the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Foods Healthy Lives Institute (Grant Number 20FCUR-2YR50AM).