The aim of this study is to analyze women’s reflections about how experiences of im/migration from rural to urban settings in Monterrey, Mexico, influence their everyday life experience and health and that of their families. The participants were eight women from heterogeneous indigenous backgrounds, one woman with a mestizo
background, two health professionals, three persons from organizations supporting indigenous groups, and two researchers. I collected data from personal observations, documents, and interviews that I then analyzed with a critical ethnography methodology developed by Carspecken. The women emphasized that food habits were the first to be adapted to circumstances in an urban everyday life constrained by working conditions. Together with their experiences of discrimination and violence, urban living determines the challenges and the priorities of daily life. Urban life affects how they perceive and treat their own and their family’s health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, their sense of belonging and home remains in their communities of origin, and they strive to reach a balance in their lives and preserve a connection to their roots, motherhood, and traditional knowledge. However, the women handle their im/migration experiences in diverse ways depending on their own conditions and the structural forces limiting or allowing them to act in decisive life situations. Im/migration is not just a matter of choice; it is about survival and is influenced by social determinants and “structural vulnerability” that influences and/or limit human agency. These, together with an unsustainable economic situation, make migration the only option, a forced decision within households. Structural forces such as social injustice in welfare policies restrict human rights and rights for health. Social determinants of health can constrain decision making and frame choices concerning health and childbearing in everyday life.
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