As a nurse, writer and academic with a passionate interest in feminist and anti-racist theory, I have combined my academic career with participation in governance and community involvement. I talk and write in popular and scholarly venues about mental health, maternal mental health, race, ethnicity, biculturalism, multiculturalism, settlement, refugee resettlement, and cultural safety. I serve on the editorial boards of the Journal of Transcultural Nursing and the Journal of Diversity and Equality in Health and Care.
My scholarly work shows how health professionals’ practices are implicated in modern state goals to regulate and maximise the labour of individuals and the social body. These culturally-specific discourses and practices construct hyper-responsible citizens who are viewed as making positive ‘choices’ even as they adopt neoliberal technologies of disciplinary control to fulfill institutional public health goals.
My Ph.D. research on migrant maternity considered how maternity discourses and practices reflect cultural visions of citizenship, making maternity a central location for anatamopolitical and biopolitical techniques of governing. The feminist construction of the knowledgeable maternity consumer as the vehicle for women’s empowerment, self-sufficiency and choice has inadvertently recolonised the birthing experiences of culturally different mothers. My work explores alternative political-economic frames such as postcolonial feminist theory and cultural safety, that highlight the political economy of colonisation, and racialisation. As a migrant who has grown up and been professionally socialised in a settler context, I see indigenous rights as a fundamental basis for a broader social justice agenda to eliminate health inequities.
I have a blog on this site where I research and rehearse ideas in different formats and for different audiences than my scholarly work. Its purpose is to contest how racialised ethnic identities are represented in the public sphere and to offer an alternative to dominant media discourses. This aim is common to the Aotearoa Ethnic Network (AEN), an email list I maintain that connects New Zealanders interested in the “ethnic” question.
I originate from Goa and was born in Tanzania, moved to Kenya with my family at the age of two and have spent most of my life in New Zealand. I have recently migrated to Australia to take up a Senior Lecturer role at Monash University in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science.
You can contact me at ruth at ruthdesouza.com