British Leprosy Relief Association
Leprosy and Stigma in the Context of International Migration
aDepartment of Anthropology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, U.S.A
Correspondence to: Cassandra White, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, PO Box 3998, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302-3998, U.S.A. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
If it can be argued that no single attribute or condition (leprosy included) is inherently or universally considered to be ‘deeply discrediting,’ to quote Goffman, then we must consider how external factors shape stigma associated with that condition in different cultural and socioeconomic contexts. Often, an analysis of what is perceived to be stigma towards people affected by leprosy uncovers other prejudices or stigmatising attitudes associated with class, gender, and/or ethnic inequalities in that society. The movement of people across international borders adds new dimensions to the experience of leprosy, as affected individuals confront different sets of understandings of the disease among healthcare professionals, friends, family, and employers in host and sending countries. Preconceptions of the immigrant ‘other’ in host countries may be bound up with notions of disease and danger, further complicating the experience of leprosy treatment for immigrants. Drawing on the work of others and on early stage qualitative research on leprosy among Brazilian immigrants to the United States, this paper will consider the ways in which immigration and transnational processes could affect the experience of stigma among immigrants affected by leprosy.