MiGeQua - Migrant understandings of health and their health related practices in diverse neighbourhoods

The research project "Migrant Health Understandings and Practices in Diverse Neighborhoods" (MiGeQua) investigates the health practices of migrants against the background of culturally shaped understandings of health, illness and healing. The project is conducted at the University of Bonn in cooperation with the University of Cologne and is funded by the German Research Foundation for 36 months since January 1, 2023.

Project information

Concepts of health and disease can differ considerably in between different societies of origin. This also applies to the external attribution of whether a person is "healthy" or “sick”/"ill". In addition, the subjective perception of health and disease can differ considerably. Out of these unequal understandings, diverse health practices emerge. These can be understood as all kinds of actions that people do to stay healthy or become healthy.

Migrants and people with a migration background have very diverse understandings of "health". They have an understanding of health and perform health practices which they have adopted in their societies of origin or, as so-called "second generation" migrants, learned from their parents and family members. For example, so-called "home remedies" used to cure certain diseases, such as mild respiratory infections, differ within families. On a higher level, however, these superficial differences are based on different explanations for the emergence of health and disease. Through migration, people get to know new explanations of health (and disease) and new health practices. These can mix with existing concepts to form new ideas and theories. We hypothesize that in neighbourhoods where people with various different cultural backgrounds live together, new understandings of health are emerging – however, to date only few studies on this topic have collected scientific evidence.

This is the starting point of the research project "Migrant understandings of health and their health-related practices in diverse neighbourhoods", in short "MiGeQua". The project is being conducted at the University of Bonn in cooperation with the University of Cologne. We are investigating health practices of migrants taking into account their culturally shaped understandings of health, disease and healing. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for 36 months, starting 1 January 2023.

Section of Keupstraße in Cologne-Mühlheim with stores and passers-by
© Kevin Becker/GIUB

"MiGeQua" aims at further theoretical and conceptual development in the examination of culturally shaped explanatory models of health, illness and healing. The theoretical framework for this project is based on practice theory, which is used to analyse migrants' "medical diversity" in their access to and utilisation of health care structures. Research areas are the urban quarters of Bonn Neu-Tannenbusch and Cologne-Mülheim. In these neighbourhoods, which are characterized by a high percentage of migrant populations, we investigate which medical systems, lay theories, and explanatory models for health and disease shape migrant health practices. In addition, we examine which practices coexist, influence and develop each other and how this affects the structures of health care provision within and outside the neighbourhoods studied..

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Principal Investigator Carsten Butsch (University of Bonn) has worked in the fields of cities, health and migration for 17 years. His work in transdisciplinary projects (partly funded by DFG) addresses urban health systems in India (access to health care, health monitoring), where intra-urban health disparities are a central aspect of his work, and urban health risks (India and Indonesia) from a risk and disaster management perspective. He has been studying indian migrants in Germany for more than ten years (at times DFG-funded), focusing on their transnational networks, practices and identities. In his research he mainly uses mixed method research (MMR) approaches. He has established partnerships in research and teaching with several indian universities and research institutions and is closely networked with a large number of scientists in Germany and Europe.

Principal Investigator Frauke Kraas (University of Cologne) works in the fields of minority studies (since 1988), urban development (since 1991), migrant and urban health (since 2005). Her work in inter- and transdisciplinary projects focuses on urban transformation processes, urban health, disaster and risk management, urban governance and urban cultural heritage in Asia. She led the DFG priority program "Megacities - Megachallenge: Informal Dynamics of Global Change" (2005-2013) and several projects on urban health (in India and China) and urbanization and migration (Thailand and Myanmar).

Project staff member Kevin Becker (University of Bonn) was hired as a research associate for the MiGeQua project at the University of Bonn on January 1, 2023. He has been involved in the conception of the research project at an early stage and participated in the preparation of the DFG proposal. It is planned that Kevin Becker will use the results of this project for his PhD thesis. Prior to his involvement in this project, he studied securitisation processes during the 2009/2010 "swine flu" pandemic (A/H1N1) in Bonn and the connection between health practices and securitisation processes in the use of nuclear energy, using the example of the Aachen city region.

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Avatar Butsch

Carsten Butsch

0.051 (135)

Meckenheimer Allee 166

53115 Bonn

Avatar Becker

Kevin Becker


Geozentrum - Meckenheimer Allee 176

53115 Bonn

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