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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Claudia Merli

Merli, C. (2010). Muslim midwives between traditions and modernity: Being and becoming a bidan kampung in Satun province, Southern Thailand. Moussons 15: 121-135.

Author(s) from Durham


This article portrays the life and activity of Muslim indigenous midwives in Satun province, Southern Thailand. Their art is transmitted almost exclusively through the maternal line and their traditional knowledge has been modified, transformed and reinvented but never abandoned, even as new biomedical information and techniques have been imparted during formal training. The indigenous midwives combine new knowledge with their more traditional practices such as use of incantations, ritual expertise, pre- and postpartum massages. They maintain their status in their communities thanks to their capacity to relate to both traditional and biomedical worlds. The reception of new equipment and the burden of bureaucratic control represent new elements in their lives and create a gap with the new generation of midwives.