Medical neutrality has been an influential doctrine about the noninterference of health care during periods of armed conflict. Increasingly, scientists and health care professionals have asked whether its principles can be used strategically by practitioners as a method of improving health care delivery in situations where conflict is enduring and unresolved, or in situations marked by vast socioeconomic, cultural or political differences. This project, which trains a graduate student in how to conduct rigorous, scientifically grounded fieldwork, examines how health care delivery can be improved in areas of conflict, and among and between individuals who are socially marginalized.

The project explores how medical neutrality is used as an ethical doctrine to deliver health care in a conflict arena. The research takes place in Israel, and is focused on the Palestinian doctors who make up 12% of the physicians working in Israel. The researcher asks how claims of neutrality and expertise allow Palestinian physicians to gain legitimacy and a sense of belonging within Israel. The project follows pilot research conducted in 2013 among Palestinian medical students, physicians, and administrators. The 12-month product would involve ethnographic fieldwork at four sites using a range of inductive data collection techniques, including participant observation, interviews, clinical setting ethnography, and archival media research and analysis. The project will make important contributions to medical anthropology. Importantly, the project would explore how professional scientific and technological knowledge plays a role in political and social processes, and how such expertise can create opportunities for individuals from marginalized populations. In addition to providing funding for the training of a graduate student in anthropology, the project would improve understandings for how to deliver health care in an area of conflict.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Jeffrey Mantz
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
United States
Zip Code