Thesis ID: CBB632148734

Medical Frontiers: Health, Empire, and Society in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula, 1862-1959 (2019)


Goffman, Laura F. (Author)
Tucker, Judith E. (Advisor)

Georgetown University
Tucker, Judith E.
Publication date: 2019
Language: English

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 331

Modern institutions of medicine and sanitation, global pandemics, and new conceptions of health and the body converged in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Such transformations corresponded with increased British imperial interventions and nascent state formation in this region. Tracing the development of public health programs after steamship service connected Bombay and Karachi with Gulf ports in 1862 to the acceleration of the oil industry after World War Two, this dissertation describes how mobile, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional residents of regions that would become Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman accepted, modified, or rebelled against top-down medical and public health initiatives. In the first four chapters, I explore an array of projects, including quarantines, hospitals, clinics, and malaria eradication, to demonstrate how the Gulf and its Arabian hinterland served as an object of development, a space of scientific translation, and a buffer zone between “diseased” Asia and white Europe. By bringing into focus the modern epidemiological concerns that shaped the spatial and communal articulation of Gulf populations, I demonstrate that biomedical knowledge and institutions transformed the relationship between political elites and non-elite residents. I survey early public health projects to narrate how imperial and local actors sought to define those populations by territory, race, religion, and gender decades before the national development period of the mid-twentieth century. The final chapter examines local accounts of al-ṭibb al-shaʿbī, or folk medicine, from the 1990s to the 2000s that address the period before the discovery of oil in the early-twentieth century. These texts craft an alternative narrative of the history of medicine in the Gulf that is made possible by the hegemony of biomedicine under the development state and a resurgent interest in “traditional” forms of healing. Such narratives frame certain health practices as indigenous to the region and the ethnically Arab population. In this conceptualization, al-ṭibb al-shaʿbī is an immutable cultural artifact as well as a foil to biomedicine as an alienating and overly institutionalized experience.

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Authors & Contributors
Afkhami, Amir Arsalan
Birn, Anne-Emanuelle
Brentjes, Sonja
Downs, Jim
Green, Monica H.
Head, William P.
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Social History of Medicine
Air Power History
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Journal of Global History
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Carocci Editore
Cornell University Press
I. B. Tauris
Johns Hopkins University Press
Public health
Medicine and society
Ross, Ronald
Müller, David Heinrich
Andrea Verga
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
18th century
20th century, late
Great Britain
Saudi Arabia
Arabian peninsula
Ottoman Empire
United States Air Force (USAF)

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