Enacting Imperial Control: Midwifery Regulation in Mandate Palestine
Using the 1929 Midwives Ordinance as an analytical lens, this article argues that the Mandate government’s treatment of Palestinian midwives reflected Britain’s broader aims to control colonial subjects and to institutionalize health care, perpetuating British constructs of gender and class in the process. It claims that in restricting midwives’ autonomy, the administration not only infringed on their livelihoods but curtailed Palestinian women’s economic opportunities. While Palestinian midwives successfully used a number of creative tactics to resist government attempts to control them, the restrictions placed on them limited general access to health care, especially in rural areas of Palestine. In an era of unprecedented state reach, however, officials were far more concerned with monitoring midwives than with expanding Palestinians’ access to much-needed health care, ultimately privileging the Yishuv in this sphere, as in so many others.