Middle East Section
Invited - Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Medical Doctors hold great deal of capital, economic and symbolic, in various national contexts. In most cases, they are organized in national organizations which function both as powerful labor unions and influential professional associations. Doctors’ organizations are also prominent actors in civil societies, not only locally but also globally (Médecins Sans Frontières, Physicians for Human Rights, Médecins du Monde). As individuals, physicians are well positioned, as specific intellectuals in the realm of life and death to advance varying political interests (Foucault 1977). The examples of Polish physicians in the early 1980’s (Kennedy 1990), Nepalese physicians during the 1990 revolution (Adams 1998), or Egyptian physicians during the 2011 uprising (Hamdy and Bayoumi 2016) show how medical doctors draw on their expertise in health, to stake claims on broad national, ethical, and political issues.
This session looks into the moments when medical doctors and doctors’ organizations act in response to the state-led political agendas as agents of modernization, torture, humanitarianism, and revolution. We are interested in how professional organizational structures are used in processes of state-building or in resisting to national politics and ideologies, especially within the context of the Middle East. We ask how medical expertise and ethics play a role in these debates in public discourse and in mobilizing and hindering political change (Can 2016). Reflecting on political climates where the boundaries between medicine and politics become increasingly untenable (Dewachi 2015), we invite a rethinking of the connections between health, power, and politics.