Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Migration-Related Detention Centers: The Challenges of an Ecological Perspective with a Focus on Justice

In recent years, border control and migration-related detention have become increasingly widespread practices affecting the lives of undocumented migrants, their families, and communities at large. In spite of the concern within academia, few studies have directly witnessed the life and experiences of people confined to migration-related detention centers. In the medical and psychological fields, a considerable body of research has demonstrated the pathogenic nature of detention in terms of mental health, showing an association between length of detention and severity of distress. Nevertheless, it was limited to the assessment of individuals' clinical consequences, mainly focusing on asylum seekers. There currently exists a need to adopt an ecological perspective from which to study detained migrants' experiences as context-dependent, and influenced by power inequalities. This paper addresses this gap.

Drawing upon advances in community psychology, we illustrate an ecological framework for the study of migration-related detention contexts, and their effects on the lives of detained migrants and all people exposed to them. Making use of existing literature, Kelly's four principles (interdependence, cycling of resources, adaptation, succession) are analyzed at multiple ecological levels (personal, interpersonal, organizational, communal), highlighting implications for future research in this field. A focus on justice, as a key-dimension of analysis, is also discussed. Wellbeing is acknowledged as a multilevel, dynamic, and value-dependent phenomenon.

In presenting this alternative framework, the potential for studying migration-related detention through an ecological lens is highlighted, pointing the way for future fields of study. We argue that ecological multilevel analyses, conceptualized in terms of interdependent systems and with a focus on justice, can enhance the comprehension of the dynamics at play in migration-related detention centers, providing an effective tool to address the multi-level challenges of doing research within them. Furthermore, they can contribute to the development of policies and practices concerned with health, equality, and human rights of all people exposed to migration-related detention. Consistent with these assumptions, empirical studies adopting such a framework are strongly encouraged. These studies should use mixed and multi-method culturally situated designs, based on the development of collaborative and empowering relationships with participants. Ethnographic approaches are recommended.

Below: Kelly’s four principles, and the dimension of justice across multiple ecological levels of analysis. Interdependence, Cycling of Resources, Adaptation, Succession, and Justice are interdependent components, whose effects, across multiple ecological levels (personal, interpersonal, organizational, communal), are interactive rather than additive

Full article at:   http://goo.gl/to7ws5

  • 1ISPA, University Institute, Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 32, 1137-039, Lisbon, Portugal. fesposito@ispa.pt.
  • 2ISPA, University Institute, Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 32, 1137-039, Lisbon, Portugal. jornelas@ispa.pt.
  • 3Department of Humanities, Federico II University of Naples, Via Porta di Massa, 1, 80133, Naples, Italy. caterina.arcidiacono@unina.it. 
  •  2015 Jun 6;15:13. doi: 10.1186/s12914-015-0052-0.

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