Storytelling, Body Maps, Research: Undocumented Workers

by Mary K. Clark

I found myself captivated by the storytelling and body maps used in gathering research for the e-book, Entangled in a Web of Exploitation and Solidarity: Latin American Undocumented Workers in the Greater Toronto Area, authored by Denise Gastaldo, Christine Carrasco and Lilian Magalhães.  I also came away with a better understanding of  undocumented workers not only in Canada, but in the US as well.  Anyone who is interested in storytelling, research, body-maps, social change and/or undocumented workers would find the videos and e-book of interest.

. . . [This is an e-book of research findings written for a general audience which takes a social determinants of health approach to explore the interconnectedness of undocumented workers’ experiences of work and health to political, socio-economic, local, and global trends. Drawing from the journeys of 20 Latin American undocumented workers performing a range of jobs in the Greater Toronto Area, the authors propose that the experiences of undocumented workers in Can­ada are embedded in a complex web of simultaneously op­pressive and supportive structures. Several international and national players are intertwined in this web which ultimately functions to create a flexible and cheap workforce for Canadian businesses and constrains workers’ physical, economic and personal mobility once in Canada, with severe consequences for their health. This central concept is explored in the e-book through four interrelated chapters and an interactive gallery of body-mapped stories. The e-book concludes with key messages to promote social dialogue that moves beyond moral arguments regarding “deserving and undeserving migrants” to engage with discussions about decent work and health for all.

The  e-book as well as the videos of the presentation of their findings (scroll down the page) can be found at:

Additional resources:
–  Creative and visual methods for exploring identities – David Gauntlett, Peter Holzwarth – 2006 – Visual  Studies.
–  The Art2Be – Art for Positive Living and Social Change website highlights information on body mapping as well as other body mapping projects they have taken on.
–  NYTimes article by Jose Antonio Vargas, My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.

My world expanded the day I came upon this research.  How are these or other ideas alive in your work or practice of storytelling?  Have you stories or other interesting projects involving undocumented workers?

– Mary



©Copyright 11/22/2012  by Mary K. Clark.  All Rights Reserved.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top