Calm Vessels

Cultural Expectations of Pregnant Women in Qatar

in Anthropology of the Middle East
Restricted access

Abstract

This article explores emerging themes from the first stage of ethnographic research investigating pregnancy and loss in Qatar. Issues around the development of foetal personhood, the medical management of the pregnant body and the social role of the pregnant woman are explored. Findings suggest that Qatari women are expected to be calm vessels for their growing baby and should avoid certain foods and behaviours. These ideas of risk avoidance are linked to indigenous knowledge around a mother’s influence on a child’s health and traits. Motherhood holds a particularly important place in Qatari culture and in Islam, and women are ultimately responsible for protecting and promoting fertility and for producing healthy children.

Contributor Notes

Susie Kilshaw is a Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, University College London, where her research focuses on reproduction, miscarriage, genetics and genetic risk, and emergent illnesses in Qatar and the U.K. She received an MSc in Medical Anthropology and a PhD in Social Anthropology from UCL. E-mail: s.kilshaw@ucl.ac.uk

Daniel Miller is a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology, University College London, where he specialises in digital anthropology and social media, material culture and consumption, motherhood, and hospices and ageing. E-mail: d.miller@ucl.ac.uk

Nadia Omar, BSc Medical Technology, is a Clinical Research Coordinator in Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, and a member of the American Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) with research interests in women’s health, pregnancy and loss, menopause and medical technology. E-mail: nao2007@qatar-med.cornell.edu

Mona Mohsen is a DPhil student in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, Oxford University, U.K. and a Research Associate at Qatar Foundation, Doha, Qatar. E-mail: mmohsen@qf.org.qa

Stella Major, MBBS FRCGP, is a practising family physician and an associate professor at the Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar. Her teaching and research interests range from promoting innovation in medical education to enhancing patient-centred care in chronic disease and integration of inter-professional care and collaborative practice. E-mail: scm2009@qatar-med.cornell.edu

Faten El-Taher is a Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Lead of the Diabetic Clinic and the Director of Women’s Hospital Accreditation, Women’s Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar. E-mail: Ftaha@hamad.qa

Halima Al-Tamini is a Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Women’s Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar. E-mail: htamimi@hmc.org.qa

Kristina Sole is a Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Oslo. Her current research interest is the epidemiology of pre-eclampsia. E-mail: k.b.sole@medisin.uio.no

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