Hokenstad International Lecture: Migrant Health Access: Building Bridges Through Research and Advocacy
This presentation is based on the research and advocacy work related to migrant’s rights and health access for those moving through Northeastern Mexico and the Texas Rio Grande Valley, including lessons learned regarding the importance of building bridges of collaboration between actors from civil society, academia, and government offices.
A collaborative project like this has allowed academic actors to develop an action-oriented science grounded in critical social theory which focuses on social justice and empowerment. Having an ongoing relationship with civil society organizations allows us to go beyond the production of research to research that provides support to social organizations and their needs. For social organizations, it was helpful to strengthen and create collaborative synergies for a common purpose, which in this case, is to facilitate access to health care for migrants. This collaboration included cooperative social management strategies and shared resources before government bodies.
Furthermore, this project created visibility to a global need for a society in which all the actors are participants. Meanwhile for government institutions, it allowed them to expand their knowledge about the ways of operating within social institutions and academia, how to overcome obstacles, increase the potential for alliances, and awareness of the administrative and political limitations of their work. In short, such a collective exercise builds bridges for science, advocacy, and development strategies.
Dr. María Elena Ramos Tovar holds a B.A. in Sociology from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL), was a Fulbright scholar for her M.A. studies and was awarded a fellowship by the Mexican Secretary of Education for her Ph.D. Studies in Sociology, both at Tulane University. She has held various academic appointments and research residencies in various states throughout Mexico and the U.S., and other countries such as Columbia, and Spain. Currently, she is a professor at the School of Social Work and Human Development at UANL where she specializes in migration and gender studies. She coordinates both International Affairs and the doctoral program. In 2020, she received the UANL award "Flame, Life, and Woman" teaching and research. She has published 9 books and countless articles and chapters focused on various topics such as COVID19 and the impact of confinement, migration, human rights, and gender. She has obtained research funding from external sources such as CONACYT, Tinker Foundation, and PIMSA-University of Berkeley. Her current research project is binational and focuses on human rights and access to health for migrants in transit.