This article explores the intersection of two growing health concerns: the rising incidence of loneliness and the negative health impacts of migration and displacement. To better evaluate loneliness across diverse populations, we emphasize the cultural shaping of expectations for social lives and the ways in which structural vulnerability and violence can undermine these expectations. We draw on ethnographic research with two groups of migrants: Mexican immigrants living in southern Arizona and Turkana pastoralists of Kenya who experience displacement and unpredictable mobility as a result of low intensity violence. For Mexican immigrants, feelings of loneliness intertwine with the emotions of fear, trauma, and sadness, all closely associated with social isolation. The Turkana describe loneliness associated with the loss of their animals, or the shifting social landscapes they must traverse to keep their families safe. The culturally salient experiences described by these two communities highlight the complexity of defining loneliness. Given the pace of global migration and the number of refugees and displaced persons, closer scrutiny of how cultural expectations and structural violence interact to produce feelings of loneliness seems overdue.
- social determinants of mental health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Psychiatry and Mental health