Recent scholarship theorizes temporalities as an important part of the migration experience, with temporal insecurity being a crucial element of (im)mobility and inequality via the phenomenon of waiting. In this article, we examine how temporalities and experiences of waiting influence health status and access to care, using ethnographic data to articulate how temporalities impact resources and how a doxa of waiting is enacted, placing some groups at heightened risk of illness and pain compared to others. Drawing upon a sample of 100 immigrant families with mixed legal status living in United States-Mexico border communities, we focus on an understudied area in anthropology: oral health concerns. We illuminate the precarious social contexts of these families and illustrate how they navigate a variety of temporally available dental care options. By centering temporalities in our analysis, we show that the quest for care is characterized by waiting, a state that is naturalized for migrant populations who may be deemed less deserving of resources. Waiting produces forms of violence that are incremental and cumulative yet ultimately rendered invisible precisely because of its long duration. A focus on temporalities highlights the unique strengths, risks, and needs of communities, which are key to addressing health equity.
William A. Lucas, Heide Castañeda, Milena A. Melo; The Lingering Ache: Temporalities of Oral Health Suffering in United States-Mexico Border Communities. Human Organization 1 June 2023; 82 (2): 131–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.17730/1938-3525-82.2.131