Article ID: CBB698394249

The Arabian Mission in Kuwait, 1910–67: Effects of Modern Medicine on Women's Healing Practices and Ideals of Womanhood (2018)


This article examines the missionary presence in Kuwait with an eye to destabilising the narrative and definition of modern medicine. Rather than examining the Arabian Mission's effect on health in Kuwait, this paper focuses on the complex encounter that led to changes in discourse and practice related to health, but also understandings of the body, cleanliness and motherhood. Women are at the centre of this story, as missionary doctors explicitly focused on treating Kuwaiti women. The Arabian Mission is contextualised as part of the Progressive Era American health movement, and also as part of a worldwide process, enabled by colonialism, through which modern medicine and traditional medicine came into conflict, but also affected each other in unexpected ways. This paper steers away from presenting missionaries as the primary actors in their encounter with locals, an easy trap when relying on missionary documents. The Mission was not the only or the primary agent in the dissemination of modern medicine and modern womanhood in Kuwait; I close by introducing two new actors – public health services and Kuwaiti women's organisations – both of which contributed to making modern medicine and modern ideals of womanhood hegemonic in Kuwait. By examining the missionary encounter in Kuwait, I show the ways in which modern medicine and traditional medicine were both transformed when they came face to face.

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Authors & Contributors
Klairmont-Lingo, Alison
Pomata, Gianna
Phillips, Clifford H.
Domingo, Carmel Ferragud
Lans, Cheryl
Leedy, Todd H.
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Agricultural History
Women's History Review
International Journal of Middle East Studies
European Journal for the History of Medicine and Health
University of Alberta Press
University of California, Los Angeles
Johns Hopkins University
McMaster University (Canada)
University of Houston
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Women in medicine
Missionaries and missions
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Phillips, Ethel Margaret
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
16th century
17th century
Great Britain

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