Public Health and migration from a global and interdisciplinary perspective

Interdisciplinary Research Group (2022-2024)

The Covid-19 crisis and its global management have brought the question of the protection of life and the right to health to the fore with new urgency. The pandemic appears to show that the supposedly most essential and fundamental rights in international and national norm-building enshrined in global, regional and national constitutions, namely health coverage and entitlements in political practice are unevenly distributed across countries on a global level. This is especially the case regarding migrant populations and post-colonial minorities. Against this backdrop, the interdisciplinary research group aims to address how the “protection of life” and the “right to health” are defined, encoded and implemented in relation to migrant populations and post-colonial minorities, as well as which ethical, social and political questions arise from this practice.

The research group is particularly interested in two main research areas, each led and supported by a guest researcher as well as short-term visiting senior scholars:

1) “The right-to-health approach in global norm-building”, focusing on how international and regional organizations define the nexus between migration and health. The research group is particular interested in the question of whether the right-to-health norm helps them to establish a focal point for international action, enabling them to better influence national policies. It analyzes how global standard-setting occurs and how it influences the regional and domestic level.

2) "Conceptualizations of eligibility and access provisions to health infrastructures and services", focusing on norm-building and policy formulation on the national level. The research group is particularly interested in the way in which "health equality" and "migration" is being framed by public health actors and how access policies are conceptualized.

Reza Bayat (research assistant, 04/2022-12/2024) concentrates in his project “Accessibility as politics of life: A multi-level analysis of migration-related and regime-building policies in the German health care system” on migration and migration-related regime building policies in the German health care system from an institutional analytical perspective. The project aims to investigate the role of policy-making and institutional formations on migrants’ accessibility to the health care system. It examines the different ways the health care system and regime-building and bordering mechanisms in Germany go hand in hand and shape each other, while documenting and analyzing the ways migration histories and discourses inform and shape how “right to health” and “protection of life” are produced, defined, and implemented on various levels.

Aleksandra Lewicki is Co-Director of the Sussex European Institute and a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sussex and has been guest researcher from May to July 2022. During this time she shared her findings from three research projects on institutional racism in the German welfare state – including research she conducted on ‘Care Ethics and the Production of Racial and Moral Others’ as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin and two collaborative follow-up projects on discrimination in health care provision commissioned by the Stiftung Mercator and Antidiskriminierungstelle des Bundes respectively. In the context of the research group she has also developed new research into institutional cultures and dynamics of racism in health and social care.