chapter  4
Managing Borders, Bodies and Cancer: Documents and the Creation of Subjects
Pages 18

This chapter examines access to cancer care among a structurally vulnerable population by noting how documents work to naturalize the place of unauthorized immigrants in the social and economic hierarchy in the United States. Documents structure access to health care. They foreclose some avenues for agency while opening up others, and they do the work of the state in disciplining illegal immigrant bodies. Drawing upon anthropological research into health care’s role in producing the limited social inclusion of immigrants (e.g., Fassin & d’Halluin, 2005; Horton, 2004; Ticktin, 2006), I examine how undocumented women’s structural vulnerability is reproduced by networks of health care providers who construct and circulate fi nancial and medical documents. In doing so, I look to four general types of documents, discussing how they shape access to health care among the women in my study: 1) immigration/citizenship documents, which determine eligibility for public insurance; 2) medical records, which provide opportunities for health care access without political recognition; 3) fi nancial documents, including bills and fi nancial statements, which discipline subjects in a context of perceived scarcity; and 4) insurance documents, which provide uncertain stability and protection against debt. I examine how these various documents refl ect and reinforce the social marginalization of unauthorized women, while also producing limited opportunities for action.