Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social work with Hispanic Americans, Social work with immigrants, Cultural competence, Loss (Psychology), Bereavement-Psychological aspects, Grief, Melancholia, Immigration, Multiculturalism, Latin American, Racial, Depression, Mental


In this paper I will use the concept of melancholia to critique and improve upon the theoretical constructs that are typically used in social work practice literature to understand the experience of Latin American immigrants. I will argue that acculturation and cultural competence models (re)enforce categories of self and other and reify notions of cultural authenticity that negate the complexity and specificity of immigrant experiences. In so doing, social work practice has taken up the United States' hegemonic narrative around immigration. As a challenge to this collaboration, I will propose an exploration of the concept of melancholia to inform social work practice with immigrants. My analysis will seek to trace linkages between the sociopolitical processes that engender loss and the production of immigrant identities. Through this work, I address the question: How can the concept of melancholia be applied in clinical practice with Latin American immigrants in order to critique, expand upon, and complicate the existing acculturation models for understanding immigrant identities, and the related cultural competency model for engaging in clinical work with immigrants? The purpose of this project is to improve the capacity of social work as a field to attend to the psychosocial needs of Latin American immigrants residing in the United States.




iv, 83 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 74-84)