Jason B Phillips Memorial Lecture

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 11:30am
Location: Zoom (Contact department chair for link)

This year's speaker will be Tsai-yen Han, who recently defended her dissertation!  Tsai-yen's talk is based on her thesis research, and is entitled:

To Be Good (Americanized) Mothers or Not: Micro Hygiene Surveillances and the Childcare Practices of Non-White Immigrant Mothers in the United States

The pursuit of public health has been intersected with gender, class, ethnicity, and citizenship in modern nation-states. While most studies primarily focus on the least privileged immigrants--families that are undocumented, with low educational attainment, low income, and holding unskilled jobs--the experiences of middle-class immigrants' families in the United States are still unknown. In this study, I focus on non-White immigrants who are well-educated, professional job holders with above-average annual household income, and currently raising preschool-aged children in the United States.  I examine those immigrant mothers' perceptions and understandings of American cleanliness and hygiene discourses and explore their experiences of raising children hygienically in the United States. I ask: What kinds of American child-hygiene resocialization and surveillance do immigrant mothers of young children encounter in the U.S.? How do they respond to the American standards of cleanliness and hygiene in childcare? What are their strategies to be good (American) mothers? I show that the ways of dirt management immigrant mothers choose to use are associated with their experiences of hygiene surveillance and identity work. Whether immigrant parents choose to be "hygiene policers" or "immunity builders," they may be labeled by native-born Americans as "non-American," "foreigners," or "inadequate parents." I find that non-White immigrant mothers accept, reject, appropriate, and negotiate American hygiene discourses to defend their maternal and ethnic identities as well as their daily negotiations of a sense of belonging and othering in the United States.