Ethnicity, identity and the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM): A case study of immigrants living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

Authors: Prince Michael Amegbor*, Queen's University, Mark W Rosenberg, Department of Geography and Planning, Queen's University, Kingston
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Social Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Translocational positionality, ethnicity, identity, Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Marshall South, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


It is acknowledged that the appeal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine (TACM) is growing among persons living in western countries. Personal beliefs and traditional values about health and healthcare are deemed major motivations for the use of TCAM. Little is, however, known about the influence of social identity or social belonging on TCAM care seeking behavior in western countries. While previous studies have examined the use of TCAM among ethnic or racial minorities, they failed to investigate the role of identity construction and sociocultural belonging on the choice of healing practices. Anthias (2008) asserts that immigrants and their descendants have complex relationships with different locales – country of residence (or naturalized countries) and country of origin. This complex relationship entails social, cultural, symbolic and material ties between homelands and destinations. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is known as one of the most ethnically diverse urban agglomerations in the western world; with an estimated 51 percent of the total population being of immigrant origin. Using Anthias’ translocational positionality framework, we investigate how the versatility of social belonging and contextual construction of ethnocultural identity influence TCAM seeking behavior among persons living in the GTA. We also investigate motivations, factors and social mechanisms that lead persons of immigrants to embrace their ethnocultural identity in seeking treatment in one context and dropping such identity in another.

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