Migration always test and often distress the wellbeing of migrants and their relatives. Healthy migrants become ill because of the stressful conditions of migration, migrants return to their places of origin with a deteriorated mental and physical health, and relatives of migrants who stay behind develop psychological and bodily ailments. All of these unhealthy processes have consequences at not only the personal and family level, but also the community level, generating a public health impact in sending, transit and receiving communities. Moreover, the worsening living conditions surrounding migrants and their relatives in their places of origin, the increasingly precarious and dangerous quality of migration journeys, and the growing hostility against immigrants in transit and receiving countries have further deteriorated health outcomes as a whole. The health challenges of migrant populations are unquestionably on the rise. Nevertheless, the effects that migration has on individual, family and collective health are neither included in health professionals’ education nor made public knowledge among migrant populations. Likewise, they are neither taken into account in migration or health policies nor used to coordinate the two systematically or efficiently. 


This dilemma has called the attention of health providers and migrants’ advocates who have been invested in reducing health disparities among migrant and non-migrant populations for several decades. One of these groups invited me to join their efforts and design a bilingual, transnational, activist research project focused on the Ecuadorean case. In 2015, I began to work with an interdisciplinary group at the Institute for Health and Migration of the Hospital of the Technical Particular University of Loja, Ecuador with the support of RIID. In 2016 and 2017, I returned to Ecuador to develop fieldwork as a Fulbright Scholar, and in 2018, the project expanded to Spain thanks to a CRS grant.  


In line with the activist approach of the project, that includes bilingual community workshops and curriculum development, I have been working with a group of artists and designers (Abraham Salazar, Nikola Venglarovam, Aliyah Campbell and Kayana Ternize) to develop graphic instructional materials on the issue.  An open access website will be launched in English and Spanish in the near future.  For the art and design contributions, we received the Social Action Award from Sociologists for Women in Society (2018). 


Based on this research, I am currently writing a book, Inequalities, Migration and Health: Critical Activist Research across Ecuadorean Borders, which will be published by Bristol University Press. I also wrote a journal article in Revista CS, "Una aproximación sociológica crítica activista al estudio de salud y migración: El caso ecuatoriano" ("A Critical Sociological Activist Approach to the study of Health and Migration") (2019), and co-authored an article with Sarah Kraft about the gender dynamics of these processes which is presently under review.  


Keep posted for new developments! 

© 2023 by Roberta Villalón. Proudly created with

Logo in English

Designed by Nikola Verglrovam (2018)