Adapted Traditions: The Case of Traditional Palestinian Women Healers in Israel

Ariela Popper-Giveon


This article examines transformations in the roles and treatment practices of traditional Palestinian women healers in Israel. Comparing narratives of women healers residing in Jewish-Arab mixed cities in central Israel with those of their counterparts in the Bedouin community of the Negev reveals that traditional healing has not disappeared as a result of modernization but rather has transformed. Urban women healers are abandoning treatment of physical problems in favor of addressing life hardships; they distance themselves from problems whose cause and treatment are considered natural and prefer those perceived as derived from supernatural causes and treated through supernatural, magical and religious means. Despite these transformations, traditional Palestinian women healers appear as agents of preservation and conservatism, a role that imbues them with a central position in their community. Hence, their place is currently secured and expected to remain so as processes of modernization and acculturation increase in intensity.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0902119


traditional healing; women healers; social change; Palestinians in Israel; Bedouin

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2009 Ariela Popper-Giveon

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.