Making lives under closure : birth and medicine in Palestine's waiting zones
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
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Reproduction is a site for understanding the ways in which people reconceptualize and re-organize the world in which they live. This dissertation tries to understand the world of birth under the regime of closures and fragmentation that governs the lives of Palestinians. It describes how checkpoints, closures, curfews have come to characterize childbirth in Palestine. It illustrates how the changing infrastructure, economy and discourse around birth produce new experiences of life in the medical sphere and in a family. Oral histories, life histories, doctors', midwives' and mothers' accounts, news reports and literature speak of these new conditions and experiences of birth and life. The meanings and structures of medicine, family and motherhood are thus remade. Oral histories focus on a history of the health infrastructure and movements in medicine, in particular the sumud (steadfastness) movement and the popular health movement. They illustrate how the figure of the doctor overlaps with that of the political leader. They identify the new health infrastructures built to assist birth during the closure which have different politics than the earlier movements, marking the post-socialist age, but show remarkable continuities with them in their emergence, mobilization and hierarchies. These new infrastructures, economies and discourses produce changing stories about birth and changing subjects. I identify two genres of birth stories, the first, narrated by mothers and the second, collected from newspapers. The former is in the register of the ordinary. The mothers remember the space of the hospital, a socio-economic space signaling class, as well as the trip from home to hospital and back. The stories seem uncanny. Occupation, closures and warfare are simply part of the ordinary. By contrast, the newspaper birth stories are sensational. They tell of checkpoint and prison births, occupation, suffering and resistance. They speak of miraculous redemption but in opposition to mothers' narrations, they are familiar. Finally, listening to the inner worlds of birth-mothers under the impress of economic, political and domestic pressures this dissertation distinguishes "enclosure" as a worldview caused by occupation and family relations, thus re-evaluating meanings of family, motherhood and life.
Thesis (Ph. D. in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS))--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (p. 254-262).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Science, Technology and Society.