“A good conversation is better than a good bed”: How Migration Impacts Meanings of Health among Chronically Ill Ethiopian Immigrant Women

Meklit Daniel


Narratives reinstate meaning to the body and mind, especially after major life events like migration and illness. To better understand the interplay between migration status and narrative practices, I examine the functions and meanings of illness narratives among three Ethiopian immigrant women living with chronic illnesses. I investigate how these accounts impact the ways in which my interviewees identify and understand themselves in relation to their illnesses. The core of this article is divided into three sections—Stigma, Frustration, and Faith—each conveying my interlocutors’ migration and chronic illness experiences as well as the liberating and constraining effects of storytelling. Collectively, these themes highlight the agentive aspects of illness narratives that help chronically ill Ethiopian immigrant women assert control over their bodies and identities as they strive toward bettering their health.


chronic illness; illness narratives; migrant health; women's health; Ethiopia

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v11i3.11244


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