Anna Katharina Münch: Nomadic Women’s Health Practice. Islamic Belief and Medical Care among Kel Alhafra Tuareg in Mali
PhD thesis, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and Insitute of Islamic Studies, University of Berne 2007
The recent past has brought political isolation and marginalization to the Kel Alhafra Tuareg in Mali. Religious values are being reassessed in order to stabilize their collective Islamic identity. At the same time, however, an opposite process of rationalization is taking place where attitudes towards the body are changing, where a general mechanization in everyday life and a thirst for Western medical knowledge are increasing, and an ostensive conflict between religious and rational influences is occurring. In the context of these dynamics, the present study shows the changes of health, help-seeking behavior, and medical care of a superficially radicalized Islamic community with one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. With specific regard to women and children, intimate conversations between women grant rare insight to diseases and experiences that effect the female life cycle. The interdisciplinary work of the scholar in Islamic studies applies anthropological, linguistic and epidemiological approaches leading to a comprehensive understanding of health and disease in a nomadic group who lives on the edge of governmental and international healthcare systems.