Heide Castañeda

Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of South Florida

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About Heide

Castañeda’s areas of expertise include migration, citizenship, health policy, and how legal institutions shape everyday experiences of immigrant communities. Recent studies examine 1) mixed-status immigrant families; 2) U.S./Mexico border enforcement and regional borderlands issues; 3) the effects of the Affordable Care Act on immigrant communities; 4) immigrant youth movements and experiences of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in Texas and Florida; and 5) transit migration in Mexico. Castañeda has worked with community organizations including United We Dream, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), founded by labor rights activist Cêsar Chávez in south Texas.

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In the News

"With Attention Elsewhere, Healthcare for Millions Quietly Still at Risk," Heide Castañeda (with Jessica Mulligan and Mark Schuller), HuffPost, June 2, 2017.
"With Attention Elsewhere, Healthcare for Millions Quietly Still at Risk," Heide Castañeda (with Jessica Mulligan and Mark Schuller), Huffpost, June 2, 2017.
Guest to discuss gaps in health insurance coverage on WNYC: The Leonard Lopate Show, Heide Castañeda, December 16, 2016.
Heide Castañeda's research on the welfare of people caught in the insurance coverage gap discussed by Inara Verzemnieks, "Life in ObamaCare's Dead Zone," New York Times Magazine, December 6, 2016.
Heide Castañeda quoted on the ACA coverage gap by Inara Verzemnieks, "Life in ObamaCare’s Dead Zone" New York Times, December 6, 2016.
"Why Deferred Action is Important," Heide Castañeda, Rio Grande Guardian, April 19, 2016.
"American Politicians' Reactions to Refugees Echo Past Xenophobia: Which Side of History Do We Want to Be On?," Heide Castañeda (with Seth M. Holmes and Jennifer Burrell), Huffington Post, November 20, 2015.
Heide Castañeda quoted on child migrants by Marvin Félix and Mike Clary, "The Uncertain Future of Undocumented Children" Sun Sentinel, March 25, 2015.
Heide Castañeda quoted on providing immigrant relief by Martin Z. Braun, "De Blasio Gathers Mayors to Support Obama Immigration Order" Bloomberg, December 8, 2014.
"From Alienation to Protection: Central American Child Migration," Heide Castañeda (with Lauren Heidbrink and Kristin Yarris), Access Denied: A Conversation on Unauthorized Im/migration and Health, September 4, 2014.
"Encounters of Violence and Care: Central American Transit Migration through Mexico," Heide Castañeda (with Kristin Yarris), Somatosphere, September 2, 2014.
"Tales from the Border: USF Professor Visits Texas and Mexico," Heide Castañeda, Interview with Mark Schreiner, WUSF News, August 6, 2014.
"Zu Gast: Heide Castañeda," Heide Castañeda, Interview with Matthias Thiele, Der Taggesspiegel, June 23, 2012.
Heide Castañeda's research on backstretch workers discussed by Patricia Leigh Brown, "Grueling Life of Workers behind Scene at Racetrack," San Francisco Chronicle, September 16, 2011.
Heide Castañeda quoted on her work with students to investigate cold case files by Daylina Miller, "Cold Case Tampa Bay: USF Graduate Students Investigate and Develop Profiles of Five Unidentified Bodies in the Tampa Region" USF News, June 7, 2011.
Heide Castañeda quoted on the need for communication in health care, "Respect Cultural Differences with Care" Patient Education Management, January 1, 2011.
"Medicine on the Backstretch: Migrant Racetrack Workers," Heide Castañeda, Streamline: The Migrant Health News Source, January/April 2011.
"Study Finds That Dental Literacy is Not the Problem," Heide Castañeda, Streamline: The Migrant Health News Source, November/December 2010.


"Is Coverage Enough? Persistent Health Disparities in Marginalised Latino Border Communities" Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43, no. 12 (2017): 2003-2019.

Presents results from a longitudinal , five-year ethnographic study of healthcare access in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Explores reasons why this region along the U.S./Mexico border has the highest rate of uninsured persons in the country and remains among the most medically underserved, despite some increases in coverage accompanying the Affordable Care Act. Argues that the convergence of healthcare and immigration policy, framed by a unique regional history and social environment, has had multiple direct and indirect impacts on health and healthcare access.

Unequal Coverage: The Experience of Health Care Reform in the United States (with Jessica M. Mulligan) (NYU Press, 2017).

Documents everyday experiences of individuals and families across the U.S. as they attempted to access coverage and care in the five years following the passage of the ACA. It argues that while the Affordable Care Act succeeded in expanding access to care, it did so unevenly, ultimately also generating inequality and stratification.

"Immigration as a Social Determinant of Health" (with Seth M. Holmes, Daniel Madrigal, Maria-Elena Young, Naomi Beyeler, and James Quesada). Annual Review of Public Health 36 (2016): 375-392.

Examines primary frameworks used in recent public health literature on the health of immigrant populations and argues for a broader examination of immigration as both socially determined and a social determinant of health.

"Discourses of Displacement and Deservingness: Interrogating Distinctions between 'Economic' and 'Forced' Migration" (with Kristin Yarris). International Migration 53, no. 3 (2014): 64-69.

Examines the discursive distinction between “voluntary” and “forced” migration and the consequences of this dichotomy for migrants’ experiences in host countries.

"Health Care Access for Latino Mixed-Status Families: Barriers, Strategies, and Implications for Reform" (with Milena A. Melo). American Behavioral Scientist (2014).
Reports on health care seeking experiences of mixed-status families and the impact of the recent health care reform (Affordable Care Act, or ACA).
"Assessing the 2010 Affordable Care Act: Perspectives of Future Health Care Professionals" (with Nolan S. Kline, Mackenzie Rapp, Nicole Demetriou, Naheed Ahmed, Isabella Chan, Theresa Crocker, Nathaniel Dicky, Patrick Dillon, Hilary Dotson, Jordana Frost, Natalie Hobbs, Emily Koby Novicki, Philip McNab, Francisco Montiel-Ishino, and Colleen Timmons). Practicing Anthropology 33, no. 4 (2011): 44-48.
Examines the perspectives of future healthcare professionals who will enter the workforce around the time of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation.
"Health Concerns of Migrant Backstretch Workers at Horse Racetracks" (with Nolan S. Kline and Nathaniel Dickey). Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 21, no. 1 (2010): 489-503.
Examines the largely itinerant community of backstretch workers and their health concerns, which reflect the interplay between occupation and structural factors of poverty, stress, poor living conditions, and diet.
"False Hope: Effects of Social Class and Health Policy on Oral Health Inequalities for Migrant Farmworker Families" (with Iraida Carrion, Nolan S. Kline, and Dinorah Martinez Tyson). Social Science & Medicine 71, no. 11 (2010): 2028-2037.
Discusses unmet dental health needs of children in migrant farmworker families, and argues that structural features and ineffective policies contribute to oral health care disparities.