Methods of mapping ethnographic data on migration, tourism labor, and health risk in the Dominican Republic


  • Karina Livingston Florida International University
  • Mark Padilla Florida International University
  • Derrick Scott Florida International University
  • Jose Felix Colon-Burgos Florida International University
  • Armando Matiz Reyes Florida International University
  • Nelson Varas-Diaz Florida International University


This paper focuses on a mixed-method approach to quantifying qualitative data from the results of an ongoing NIDA-funded ethnographic study entitled “Migration, Tourism, and the HIV/Drug-Use Syndemic in the Dominican Republic”. This project represents the first large-scale mixed method study to identify social, structural, environmental, and demographic factors that may contribute to ecologies of health vulnerability within the Caribbean tourism zones. Our research has identified deportation history as a critical factor contributing to vulnerability to HIV, drugs, mental health problems, and other health conditions. Therefore, understanding the movements of our participants became a vital aspect of this research. This paper describes how we went about translating 37 interviews into visual geographic representations. These methods help develop possible strategies for confronting HIV/AIDS and problematic substance use by examining the ways that these epidemics are shaped by the realities of people’s labor migration and the spaces they inhabit.  Our methods for mapping this qualitative data contribute to the ongoing, broadening capabilities of using GIS in social science research. A key contribution of this work is its integration of different methodologies from various disciplines to help better understand complex social problems.