Of Red Cells, Translocality and Origins: Inherited Blood Disorders in Oman
Health issues constitute a relevant starting point to investigate the Sultanate’s regional integration and its bonds with more distant areas: this field includes flows of technologies and liquid assets as well as ideas and individuals. This contribution is based on a social anthropology research focused on the particular case of inherited blood disorders (IBD) in Oman. These serious genetic diseases are frequently stigmatized as consequences of a so-called “traditional” behaviour that encourages local consanguineous marriages – symbolically linked to the interior of Oman – as opposed to “respectable” modernism that advocates avoidance of endogamy – supposedly characteristic of the urban coastal areas. Thus, social representations of these diseases are embodied in the country’s geography itself; furthermore, diagnosis of IBD, treatments, and even patients’ survival involve numerous local and/or regional interactions. The ethnographic study of these diseases in Oman, dealing with different communities and social fields, reveals some of the Sultanate’s past and present forms of translocality. Using the example of inherited blood disorders, this chapter also aims at describing the networks Oman belongs to, whether one considers “therapeutic journeys”, the social stakes of genetics research, implementation of policies regarding genetic health or transnational genealogical reconstructions.
KeywordsSaudi Arabia Medical Tourism Consanguineous Marriage Genetic Health Racialization Process
I want to express my gratitude to patients, families and health practitioners, who trusted me and let me settle in their everyday life, in hospitals or at home, in Muscat and elsewhere.
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