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Muslim Midwives
The Craft of Birthing in the Premodern Middle East


Part of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization

  • Date Published: February 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107646810

£ 25.99

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About the Authors
  • This book reconstructs the role of midwives in medieval to early modern Islamic history through a careful reading of a wide range of classical and medieval Arabic sources. The author casts the midwife's social status in premodern Islam as a privileged position from which she could mediate between male authority in patriarchal society and female reproductive power within the family. This study also takes a broader historical view of midwifery in the Middle East by examining the tensions between learned medicine (male) and popular, medico-religious practices (female) from early Islam into the Ottoman period and addressing the confrontation between traditional midwifery and Western obstetrics in the first half of the nineteenth century.

    • The first book entirely devoted to the social history of midwifery in the Islamic Middle East
    • Contributes to a better understanding of the ambivalence and contradictions in gender relations in these societies
    • Clarifies the distinction between professional and popular midwifery in the Middle East
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Giladi's source base is broad and diverse; his reading has clearly been vast, and he does a very good job of making his enormous body of quotations, facts, and narratives manageable for the reader. The extremely broad scope of the project (both chronological and geographical) is justified by the sparse and difficult nature of his data, which sometimes requires him to discern patterns and commonalities (or, less often, contrasts and changes) by bringing together scattered examples gleaned from different times and places.' Marion H. Katz, Journal of the American Oriental Society

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107646810
    • length: 208 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 154 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.326kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Islamic views on birth and motherhood
    2. Midwifery as a craft
    3. The subordinate midwife: male physicians versus female midwives
    4. The absent midwife
    5. The privileged midwife
    6. Ritual, magic, and the midwife's roles in and outside the birthing place
    7. From traditional to modern midwifery in the Middle East
    Concluding remarks.

  • Author

    Avner Giladi, University of Haifa, Israel
    Avner Giladi is Professor of Islamic History at the University of Haifa, Israel.

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