Ethnographic investigation of the impact of type 2 diabetes among Indian and Pakistani migrants
This thesis explores the impact of type 2 diabetes among Indian and Pakistani migrants. Indians and Pakistanis living in the UK have a high incidence of type 2 diabetes and associated complications. Research is needed in order to understand factors that make it difficult to adhere to lifestyle advice about diet, exercise and medication. Drawing on data collected during a sixteen-month ethnographic investigation, this thesis explores Indians’ and Pakistanis’ perceptions of diabetes. The research revealed that Indians and Pakistanis related the onset of diabetes to processes of migration and settling in the UK as well as to stress and depression. In particular, holding on to negative thoughts and worries, were perceived by respondents as directly affecting the body by causing stress, depression and eventually illness. Struggles over diabetes control were also perceived as to cause distress. Specifically, respondents struggled to adhere to a healthy diet regime, since food, especially taste, played a crucial role in forming, reinforcing and demarcating social relations and in ensuring cultural continuity. In addition, respondents struggled to ‘adhere’ to their prescriptions of diabetes medications due to the uncomfortable side effects that they experienced, particularly in the stomach. Respondents, however, counteracted side effects by turning to alternative medications which were perceived to facilitate flow within the circulatory and digestive system. Thus, in spite of the difficulties that Indians and Pakistanis experienced in following biomedical recommendations for diabetes control, they still actively engaged in searching and using different treatments available to them in order to control the disease.