Of Red Cells, Translocality and Origins: Inherited Blood Disorders in Oman

  • Claire BeaudevinEmail author
Part of the United Nations University Series on Regionalism book series (UNSR, volume 6)


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.


Saudi Arabia Medical Tourism Consanguineous Marriage Genetic Health Racialization Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



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.


  1. Appadurai, A. (2005 [1996]). Après le colonialisme (Petite Bibliothèque). Paris: Payot & Rivages.Google Scholar
  2. Barth, F. (1983). Sohar: Culture and society in an Omani town. Baltimore/London: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beaudevin, C. (2010). Faqr al-dam, “l’indigence du sang”, comme héritage. Représentations et enjeux sociaux des hémoglobinopathies héréditaires au sultanat d’Oman [Faqr al-dam (indigence of the blood) as inheritance. Representations and social stakes of hereditary haemoglobinopathies in the Sultanate of Oman]. Ph.D. thesis in Social Anthropology, Université Paul Cézanne – Aix-Marseille III, Aix-en-Provence (France).Google Scholar
  4. Benoist, J. (2004). A propos de: Agnès Lainé (Ed.), La drépanocytose. Regards croisés sur une maladie orpheline. Bulletin Amades, 58. Accessed 8 Aug 2011.
  5. Bonnet, D. (2009). Repenser l’hérédité. Paris: Editions des archives contemporaines.Google Scholar
  6. Bonte, P. (Ed.). (1994). Epouser au plus proche. Inceste, prohibitions et stratégies matrimoniales autour de la Méditerranée. Paris: Editions de l’EHESS.Google Scholar
  7. Bonte, P. (2007). Le choix du conjoint dans les sociétés musulmanes maghrébines contemporaines. Evolutions sociales et réformes juridiques. Anthropology of the Middle East, 2(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. El-Gayar, S., Ganesh, A., et al. (2009). Molecular analysis of CYP1B1 in Omani patients with primary congenital glaucoma: A pilot study. Molecular Vision, 8(15), 1325–1331.Google Scholar
  9. El-Mouzan, M. I., Al-Salloum, A. A., et al. (2007). Regional variations in the prevalence of consanguinity in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Medical Journal, 28(12), 1881–1884.Google Scholar
  10. Fortun, M. (2008). Promising genomics. Iceland and deCODE genetics in a world of speculation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  11. Herrick, J. B. (1910). Peculiar elongated and sickle-shaped red blood corpuscles in a case of severe anemia. Archives of Internal Medicine, 6, 517–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Khlat, M. (1989). Les Mariages consanguins à Beyrouth. Traditions matrimoniales et santé publiques. Paris: PUF/Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques.Google Scholar
  13. Mégarbané, A. (2003). Projets Nord-Sud en génétique: coopération ou colonialisme scientifique? L’Observatoire de la Génétique, 9(janvier-février). Accessed 8 Aug 2011.
  14. Ministry of Health. (1972). A report of the Ministry of Health –August 1970 to November 1972. Muscat: Ministry of Health.Google Scholar
  15. Ministry of Health. (2008). Annual health report 2007. Muscat: Department of Health Information and Statistics, Directorate General of Planning.Google Scholar
  16. Ministry of Health. (2010). Annual health report 2009. Muscat: Department of Health Information and Statistics, Directorate General of Planning.Google Scholar
  17. Muslim, N. (2006, February 21). Arabs have highest rate of genetic disorders. Gulf News. Accessed 8 May 2013.
  18. Naraindas, H., & Bastos, C. (2011). Healing holidays? Itinerant patients, therapeutic locales and the quest for health. Anthropology & Medicine, 18(1).Google Scholar
  19. Percot, M. (2006). Indian nurses in the Gulf: Two generations of female migration. South Asia Research, 26(1), 41–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Pordié, L. (2013). Spaces of connectivity, shifting temporality. Enquiries in transnational health. European Journal of Transnational Studies 5(1).Google Scholar
  21. Rajab, A., & Patton, M. A. (1999). Development and use of a national haemoglobinopathy register in Oman. Community Genetics, 2(1), 47–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rajab, A., & Patton, M. A. (2000). A study of consanguinity in the Sultanate of Oman. Annals of Human Biology, 27(3), 321–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rajab, A., Patton, M. A., & Modell, B. (1999). Analysis of the population structure in Oman. Community Genetics, 2(1), 23–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Reardon, W., & Donnai, D. (2007). Dysmorphology demystified. Archives of Disease in Childhood. Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 92, 225–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Roberts, E. F. S., & Scheper-Hughes, N. (2011a). Introduction: Medical migrations. Body & Society, 17(2 & 3), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Roberts, E. F. S., & Scheper-Hughes, N. (Eds.). (2011b). Medical Migrations. Body & Society, 17(2–3).Google Scholar
  27. Smith-Morris, C., & Manderson, L. (2010). Medical travel. Medical Anthropology, 29(4).Google Scholar
  28. Sobo, E. J., Herlihy, E., & Bicker, M. (2011). Selling medical travel to US patient-consumers: The cultural appeal of website marketing messages. Anthropology & Medicine, 18(1), 119–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Susanne, C., Rebato, E., & Chiarelli, B. (Eds.). (2003). Anthropologie biologique. Evolution et biologie humaine. Brussels: De Boeck.Google Scholar
  30. Tapper, M. (1999). In the blood. Sickle cell anemia and the politics of race (critical histories). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  31. Turing, P. (1980, May 9). Striking success in control of disease. The Times, p. v.Google Scholar
  32. Valeri, M. (2007). Nation-building and communities in Oman since 1970: The Swahili-speaking Omani in search of identity. African Affairs, 106(424), 479–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Valeri, M. (2009). Oman. Politics and society in the Qaboos state. London/New York: Hurst/Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Whipple, G. H., & Bradford, W. L. (1932). Racial or familial anemia of children: Associated with fundamental disturbances of bone and pigment metabolism. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 44, 336–365.Google Scholar
  35. World Health Organization. (1978). Declaration of Alma-Ata. Adopted at the International Conference on Primary Health Care, Alma-Ata, USSR, 6–12 Sept 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cermes3 (Centre de recherche Médecine, sciences, santé, santé mentale et société)Paris/VillejuifFrance

Personalised recommendations