Rethinking the social history in the era of biolegitimacy: Global health and medical education in the care of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Beirut, Lebanon

Ashish Premkumar*, Kareem Raad, Mona H. Haidar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The critiques leveled towards medical humanitarianism by the social sciences have yet to be felt in medical education. The elevation of biological suffering, at the detriment of sociopolitical contextualization, has been shown to clearly impact both acute and long-term care of individuals and communities. With many medical students spending a portion of their educational time in global learning experiences, exposure to humanitarianism and its consequences becomes a unique component of biomedical education. How does the medical field reconcile global health education with the critiques of humanitarianism? This paper argues that the medical response to humanitarian reason should begin at the level of a social history. Using experiential data culled from fieldwork with Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the authors argue that an expanded social history, combined with knowledge derived from the social sciences, can have significant clinical implications. The ability to contextualize an individual's disease and life within a complex sociopolitical framework means that students must draw on disciplines as varied as anthropology, sociology, and political history to further their knowledge base. Moreover, situating these educational goals within the framework of physician advocacy can build a strong base in medical education from both a biomedical and activist perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
JournalAnthropology and Medicine
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • biolegitmacy
  • humanitarianism
  • Lebanon
  • Palestinians
  • social history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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