Dr. Alyshia Gálvez (Latin American, Latino and Puerto Rican Studies) has won the Association for Latina and Latino Anthropology 2012 Book Award for her book on the prenatal care of Mexican immigrant women. The book, Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2011), has received praise for its rich narrative and clear analysis of a birth-weight paradox that has stumped the American medical establishment.
Studies have shown that Mexican immigrant women, specifically those who have recently immigrated, have less complicated pregnancies and more favorable birth outcomes despite their socioeconomic disadvantages. If health equals wealth, as the saying goes, then why and how do these particular women defy the old adage? To find out, Dr. Gálvez interviewed women in prenatal clinics in New York and in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Puebla, where she witnessed how Mexican women managed their pregnancies.
Sprinkled throughout the book are the women’s firsthand accounts of how they learned to care for themselves during pregnancy. Subjects who had given birth both in Mexico and in the U.S. talked about the differences between the care they received at home and in the states. What Dr. Gálvez shows through these interviews is that these women come to the experience with a wealth of knowledge that is often disregarded by medical doctors in the U.S. in favor of more “modern” biomedical practices.
Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers raises important questions about Latina health and reproductive health care by challenging the assumptions of modernity and efficacy in the U.S. health care delivery system. Dr. Gálvez’s work has implications not only for researchers trying to understand the phenomenon described in the book, but also for the diasporic Mexican community navigating complex and often contradictory bicultural traditions and health care practices.
A cultural anthropologist, Dr. Gálvez’s areas of specialization include Latin America, Latinos in the United States, religion, migration, performance, citizenship and medical anthropology. She is also the director of the recently opened CUNY Institute of Mexican Studies.
A graduate of Columbia University, Dr. Gálvez earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University.