Affect, Place and Health Among Asian Immigrants

Karen Leong, Associate Professor, Asian and Pacific American Studies & Women and Gender Studies, School of Social Transformation
Kathy Nakagawa, Associate Professor, Asian and Pacific American Studies, School of Social Transformation
Aggie Noah, Associate Professor, Asian and Pacific American Studies & Justice and Social Inquiry, School of Social Transformation

The World Health Organization (WHO) clearly defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being rather than as the absence of sickness or frailty (WHO 1948). Despite this concrete and universally accepted definition of health, different social groups may vary in their perceptions and definitions of health based on individuals’ and groups’ histories and social positions within society. Thus, we ask whether, how, for whom, and under what conditions individuals define health. Furthermore, moving beyond the simplistic approach of understanding health as the mere state of well-being and the absence of disease, theorizing how individuals conceptualize and attach value to the notion of health provides a critical foundation for understanding health and health disparities. This project seeks to map these dynamic processes by analyzing how first- and second-generation Asian and Pacific Islanders immigrants in Arizona define health and well-being in ways that are not limited to clinical or medical contexts, such as support networks, a sense of security and safety, and one’s emotional well-being. This project is particularly interested in how these AAPI immigrants associate aspects of their health with specific places in their everyday lives.

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