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Group photo of the Migration and Health in Social Context Workshop

Members of the Migration and Health in Social Context Workshop

In addition to the many research projects of the BCSM faculty, center-sponsored projects include: 

Migration and Health in Social Context 

BCSM Co-Chair Seth M. Holmes, German scholars and affiliates from Georgetown received funds from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to produce a case series on migration. Seth M. Holmes and Emily Mendenhall (Georgetown) are the case series editors. The “BMJ Migration and Health in Social Context Collection” describes three useful frameworks from medical social sciences that are lacking in medical and public health literature. This collection addresses frameworks of 1) deservingness, 2) structural vulnerability, and 3) flourishing through case studies of health and migration. Each of these articles comes from the social science analysis often called “mobility” that understands migration as a common reality for humans throughout history as opposed to the usual way we respond to migration as unusual, unexpected, or problematic. Each article uses concise ethnographic case narratives from diverse geopolitical locations in the world to illustrate how these frameworks relate to medicine and public health.

Clinical Ethnography Group

The Clinical Ethnography Group brings together students, faculty, and trainees from UC Berkeley, UCSF, and the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program to build community and discuss current topics around conducting ethnographic research in and around clinical spaces. We welcome everyone from those who have never completed ethnographic research and would like to learn more about how to do so, to researchers preparing for or currently in the field, and professionals with established research experience. Meetings occur monthly. Light reading and/or writing on the month’s topic sometimes encouraged. To learn more and get involved with our next meeting, please contact Jeremy Gottlieb at

Borders and Bodies Collective

Borders and Bodies Collective aims to raise consciousness around immigration and health. Our vision is to create a safe space to discuss health issues affecting our communities, increase visibility of immigrant health, and engage in critical discussions to better understand and address the issues affecting immigrant communities.

To learn more about the collective, contact:

Lab in Critical Studies in Food, Health and the Environment 

Led by Professor Seth Holmes, the lab focuses on the intersections among social and political inequities, health and health care, transnational im/migration and/or refugeeism, and critical food studies.
To learn more, please contact Miriam Magaña Lopez, Research and Policy Associate,

Structural Competency Working Group (Rad-Med)

This laboratory-seminar is designed as a collaborative crucible for new forms of medical and community mental health practice. We ask: how can we envision and design innovative ways of addressing inequities and inequalities in clinical medicine, as informed by critical theory as well as clinical and personal experience? Bringing together not only scholars from multiple disciplines, but also physicians, patients, and community members, this project makes the collective education of all its members a priority.

One component of the working group has been the development, implementation, and evaluation of a structural competency training for medical residents. That work is described in "Teaching Structure: A Qualitative Evaluation of a Structural Competency Training for Resident Physicians" by Joshua Neff, Kelly Knight, Shannon Satterwhite, Nick Nelson, Jenifer Matthews, and Seth Holmes, published in April 2017 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. More details about the training are included in the chapter “The Structural Competency Working Group: Lessons from Iterative, Interdisciplinary Development of a Structural Competency Training Module.” The chapter, authored by group members Joshua Neff, Seth M. Holmes, Shirley Strong, Gregory Chin, Jorge De Avila, Sam Dubal, Laura G. Duncan, Jodi Halpern, Michael Harvey, Kelly Ray Knight, Elaine Lemay, Brett Lewis, Jenifer Matthews, Nick Nelson, Shannon Satterwhite, Ariana Thompson-Lastad, and Lily Walkover is in the 2019 volume Structural Competency in Mental Health and Medicine, edited by Helena Hansen and Jonathan Metzl. The complete curriculum, "Structural Competency: Curriculum for Medical Students, Residents, and Interprofessional Teams on the Structural Factors That Produce Health Disparities," along with a discussion of the implementation and outcomes, was published in March 2020 on the MedEd Portal and is available for free download here.

The working group issued a position statement on racism, police violence, and health equity.

To learn more about the working group, visit the website. 

HEART Research Group

Health Effects Associated with Racism Threat: Cultivating Strong HEARTs and Minds!

The HEART Research Group promotes research and scholarship related to the emodiment of stress with a focus on racial health disparities and racial health inequities. We use a social-psycho-biological framework to interrogate the intersection of socio-environmental risk, psychosocial processes, and the biological embedding of social experience. Though our focus is on understanding racism as a determinant of individual and population health, we investigate and consider other social experiences associated with stigma and social disadvantage. Our activities include group discussion, article reviews, developing manuscripts/publications, and conference presentations. Current projects include: 1) Racial discrimination and premature physiologic aging among midlife African American women, 2) Development and validation of the Anticipatory Racism Scale, 3) Understanding the education/mortality gradient in the US by intersections of age, race, and gender, and 4) Being a SuperWoman: How Black women cope with racism stress.

This research group is led by Amani M. Allen (formerly Nuru-Jeter), Associate Professor of Public Health, UC Berkeley. The group is not currently accepting new members.

Social Medicine Case Series: Bringing Structural Frameworks to Global Public Health and Health Care

Seth Holmes, Co-Chair of the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine and Associate Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology, and co-PI Scott Stonington, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, are commissioning and editing a series of case studies to communicate the macro structures affecting the health and well-being of patients in ways that will influence the programs, projects, and care provided by global health professionals. Each article is co-authored by a clinician who will describe aspects of a clinical case and by a social medicine scholar who analyze the case to bring out social structural insights vital to the understanding and practice of health care. This project is funded by the Open Society Foundations.

Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Since 2014, there has been a large increase in the numbers of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America entering the U.S. across the U.S. Mexico border. While these children have been at the center of a media firestorm, little is known about their health, mental health, and educational needs, and how U.S. communities are responding to those needs. This BCSM research project, in collaboration with the Center for Research on Social Change and Center for Latino Policy Research, investigated the national, state, and Bay Area contexts to identify how many children are in detention, how many children have been released to family members and other sponsors, and the general patterns of their needs, as well as Bay Area community responses. The results are available in a Fact Sheet, as a downloadable pdf in both English and Spanish. BCSM also sponsored a symposium in the fall of 2014 on Children at the Border, Children at the Margins: Health, Responsibility, and Immigration

Berkeley Center for Social Medicine
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University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-5670
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