Saturday, 18 August 2018

New book: 'Ungovernable Life Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq' by Omar Dewachi

Dewachi, O. (2017) Ungovernable Life Mandatory Medicine and Statecraft in Iraq, Stanford University Press.


Iraq's healthcare has been on the edge of collapse since the 1990s. Once the leading hub of scientific and medical training in the Middle East, Iraq's political and medical infrastructure has been undermined by decades of U.S.-led sanctions and invasions. Since the British Mandate, Iraqi governments had invested in cultivating Iraq's medical doctors as agents of statecraft and fostered connections to scientists abroad. In recent years, this has been reversed as thousands of Iraqi doctors have left the country in search of security and careers abroad. Ungovernable Life presents the untold story of the rise and fall of Iraqi "mandatory medicine"—and of the destruction of Iraq itself.

Trained as a doctor in Baghdad, Omar Dewachi writes a medical history of Iraq, offering readers a compelling exploration of state-making and dissolution in the Middle East. His work illustrates how imperial modes of governance, from the British Mandate to the U.S. interventions, have been contested, maintained, and unraveled through medicine and healthcare. In tracing the role of doctors as agents of state-making, he challenges common accounts of Iraq's alleged political unruliness and ungovernability, bringing forth a deeper understanding of how medicine and power shape life and how decades of war and sanctions dismember projects of state-making.

About the author
Omar Dewachi is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Social Medicine, and Global Health and Co-Director of the Conflict Medicine Program at the American University of Beirut.

New chapter: 'Transnational Health and Long-Term Care Practices’ in the Routledge Handbook of Health Geography (2018)

Ormond, M. and Toyota, M. (2018) ‘Rethinking care through transnational health and long-term care practices’, in V. Crooks, G. Andrews and J. Pearce (eds), Routledge Handbook of Health Geography, Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 237-243. 

Access to and quality of health and social care resources within and between countries is increasingly uneven. Market, state, civic, familial and individual responses to this unevenness produce diverse transnational care practices that, in turn, generate a variety of transnational care spaces around the world and at different scales. This chapter focuses on the ways in which these different social actors are imbricated in a range of transnational care practices and the spaces in which these practices unfold. Drawing on examples from South and Southeast Asia, it first discusses two transnational care practices produced by (perceived) medical care deficits: 1) temporary and circular movements abroad for the satisfaction of one’s specific medical needs and wants (popularly dubbed ‘medical tourism’) and 2) short-/long-term and circular migratory trajectories of skilled health workers seeking to meet the demands of and benefit from health systems abroad. Such practices have generated diverse transnational care spaces, from ‘world-class’ hospitals to dedicated airport immigration lanes to special nursing schools training nurses for ‘export’. The chapter then draws on examples from East Asia and Western Europe to describe two transnational care practices produced by (perceived) long-term care deficits: 1) migratory trajectories for the improved fulfilment of one’s long-term care needs and 2) migratory trajectories of formal and informal care-givers seeking to meet the long-term needs of societies with rapidly ageing populations. A variety of transnational care spaces have also emerged around these practices, including assisted living facilities and nursing homes for foreigners and live-in care arrangements enabling dependent seniors to age in place. In examining these practices and their resultant spaces, this chapter seeks to shed light on the existing and emergent range of scales and complex networks of care.