Biomedical technologies and health practices in the Middle East and North Africa [MAN]

Irene Capelli (University of Milano Bicocca)
Irene Maffi (University of Lausanne)
Claire Beaudevin (CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research)
Marcia Inhorn (Yale University)
Start time:
21 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Biomedicine, biomedical technologies and health are poorly covered research areas in the anthropology of the MENA region. We invite papers focusing on biomedical technologies and the multiple social arrangements and practices they generate, both among patients and health care professionals.

Long abstract:

Biomedicine, biomedical technologies and health in general are poorly covered research areas in the anthropology of the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) region. While a corpus of literature broaches reproductive and contraceptive technologies, important topics developed in other regions are still to be more widely explored, such as drugs, medical imaging, clinical trials, genetic testing, blood tests / banks / donation, or organ transplantations. In this panel, we invite researchers working in one or several MENA countries to discuss uses of and interactions around biomedical technologies, considering both patients' and health professionals' practices. As the local shapes, meanings, and impacts of biomedical technologies depend on the social, political and economic contexts as well as on the community of practice, variations in their interpretations and uses may reveal their inherent plasticity. This malleability shall be considered in relation with actors' specific identities such as social class, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual identities, age, marital status, handicap. Therefore, practices related to biomedical technologies can foster agency or conversely reinforce domination, inequalities or oppression. Moreover, biomedical technologies are caught up in local and global logics that transcend their specific medical application, turning them into instruments that can be used to domesticate bodies, shape specific forms of subjectivity, build political agendas, etc. What are the similarities, convergences or discrepancies in the uses of biomedical technologies throughout the MENA region? What kind of specific social arrangements do they imply / legitimate / enable? How do these arrangements impact existing power structures and cultural meanings?