[P6415] Medical Humanities in the Middle East: health, medicine and life

Created by Maziyar Ghiabi
Tuesday, 11/30/21 11:30 am


This panel aims at a critical engagement with the histories and everyday practices of medicine and health in the modern Middle East. It focuses on diverse sub-fields of health such as epidemics, environmental well-being, healing and self-care across the geo-cultural environments of the Mediterranean and West Asia, in the Ottoman, Iranian and Egyptian contexts; and it reveals commonalities in how different categories of scholars, healers and public officials as well as ‘everyday people’ produced knowledge about disease, health and medicine. Those often left outside of scholarly gaze such as non-elite women, working people, heterodox and fluid social groups such as ‘addicts’ and tribes – whatever they come to mean – become transformative agents of the life in this emerging geo-cultural space. Through the different contributions in the panel, the foundation of modern scientific institutions in medical education and public health are put into dialogue with the magical, the superstitious, and the traditional. What made an established belief superstitious? What counted as health or healing ritual? And in what way local practices of healing and health merged and coalesced with the new modern (Western) medicine? Where was the boundary of local knowledge and new modern knowledge drawn and by whom? In doing so, the panel also reflects upon the emerging place and direction of the medical humanities in new geo-cultural environments of health and life.

The collective work of the contributors is an attempt to blur dichotomies of Western vs. non-Western, local vs. global, peripheral vs. central that have been long-standing features of the study of the Middle East. We are interested in exploring alternative geographies – frontiers, pilgrimage paths, routes of labor and slavery – as well as topographies – urban arrangements, rural landscapes – through which people, commodities and pathogens moved, while paying attention to how these compared with constructions within and outside the region of what/who/which locality was considered healthy or sick.

The panel also seeks to reveal insights about the utility of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work on health. It attempts to open up new avenues for the Medical Humanities in the Middle East, highlighting the nexus of disciplines such as history and anthropology with epidemiology and public health, as well as politics. Not only we expect this to incite conceptual contamination between inherently inter-connected fields of knowledge, but we also expect it to promote methodological experimentation on the study of health, medicine, disease, and ultimately life.


Medicine/Health; Medicine/Health; Medicine/Health; Medicine/Health; Medicine/Health; Medicine/Health




Hannah-Louise Clark

(University of Glasgow)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Taylor M. Moore

(Harvard University)
Taylor M. Moore is a University of California Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at UC Santa Barbara. Her research lies at the intersections of critical race studies, decolonial/postcolonial histories of science, and decolonial...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Maziyar Ghiabi

(University of Exeter)
Maziyar Ghiabi (DPhil Oxford) is a transdisciplinary researcher working on the intersection of politics and health using ethnographic and historical approaches. His work concerns the everyday life of the state and state-society relations. His work is...
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Organizer; Presenter;

Chris Sandal-Wilson

(University of East Anglia, UK)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Hande Yalnizoglu

(University of Oxford)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;