Accepted paper:

Social work and anthropology: Moroccan female immigrants in Spain


Theresa Thao Pham (University of Maryland)

Paper short abstract:

Access to government assistance is paramount to the survival of Moroccan female immigrants in Spain. This paper addresses the value negotiation between anthropology and social work and is drawn from the volunteer effort of an anthropologist functioning as a social worker in Madrid.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropology's history has ties to colonial projects, and anthropology today still has association with the ruling bodies. The case cannot be any truer than in Spain where non-governmental organizations do not exist since all organizations have to register with the local government and funding is also funneled through them. Nevertheless, new immigrants with scant social network in Spain often approach civic organizations for resettlement assistance. For Moroccan immigrant women, access to government assistance is paramount to their survival in Spain. Advocating for these women is the core job of social workers while providing cultural insights into their predicament is the heart of applied anthropology. This paper addresses the value-conflict between anthropology and social work at a Spanish-Moroccan civic organization in Madrid. This presentation is drawn from my volunteer effort as a social worker with access and cultural knowledge of the Moroccan immigrant community in Madrid. Since I have conducted long-term research on the Moroccan community, particularly with Moroccan female immigrants, I have access to in-depth cultural and personal information that other social workers do not have. I frequently have to weigh my ethical stance as an anthropologist with the obligation to share privileged information during staff meetings. Sometimes the sharing of information benefits the immigrants while other times it jeopardizes their access to resources.

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panel P25
Can anthropology work for migrants? Anthropology (-ists) at work in charities and NGOs