Institute of Archaeology


Understanding Heritage Wellbeing

The objective of this research project is to

  • critically investigate the relationships between traditional healers and eye care needs in the West Bank (Occupied Palestinian Territories).
  • highlight the potential for defining collaborative projects between traditional healers and the St John Eye Hospital and their integration into a comprehensive health system.

Previous research has shown that what can be broadly termed as 'cultural reasons' inform decision-making in terms of why potential patients do/ do not attend the St John Eye Hospital/ eye clinics for treatment (see, for example, the RAAB study). This project thus seeks to focus attention on the figure and role of traditional healers and traditional medicine. As such, the research methodology is to be based upon interviews with ten healers. The statements and observations elicited from both structured and unstructured interviews with these ten informants will comprise the principal data on which this study is based. Of particular interest will be beliefs about diseases and sources of knowledge, the types of illnesses and conditions treated - with the focus on eye care - the objects, substances and skills used in cure and the therapeutic efficacy.

In order to gain further depth of understanding the above testimonies will be combined with more general ethnographic studies concerned with drawing out cultural attitudes to eye care and wellbeing on the part of the patient-users i.e. in terms of 'users' of traditional medicine and that offered by the St John Eye Hospital. To achieve this latter objective it is envisaged that both quantitative and qualitative methods will be employed.