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Systemic corruption disables the ability of patients to realize their citizenship-based rights to health, at times with fatal consequences. Shifting the scale of analysis from microaggressions via person-to-person encounters to systemic corruption allows for a complex evaluation of the roles providers play. Health care professionals both contribute and are subjected to systemic corruption, leading to feelings of entrapment and culpability. Their actions both maintain and expose the “public secret” of widespread corruption in the Mexican health care system. In essence, health care providers operate at the edge of legality/illegality within a context of routinized professional-economic insecurity. Based on eleven months of multi-sited research, our binational, collaborative perspective points to how rule breaking and corruption rely on social networks structured by power inequality. The vulnerability of health care providers, including violations of their labor rights, result in dire consequences for the health outcomes of patients living under conditions of precarity.


Forthcoming in Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.

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Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

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Anthropology Commons



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