Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Naomi Rogers


This thesis explores the historical, cultural and social reasons for the wariness that the nomadic Tuareg of Niger have towards Western medicine and medical practitioners. I give a historical account of their interactions with and resistance to the French colonial administration and the postcolonial state of Niger and how this resistance to Western medicine and health clinics was an embodied form of political and social resistance to governmentality and state attempts at sedentarization. I provide historical example of when health care delivery was successful and was embraced rather than resisted as well as the ways in which the Tuareg have not only integrated Western medicines into their lives but the ways in which these often scarce medicines are distributed to the community as a whole. I performed a systematic review of the medical, public health, and social science literature examining published and unpublished documents and doctoral dissertations on the health of the Tuareg and history of Niger. I also conducted interviews with journalists, anthropologists, humanitarian aid workers and a physician that have worked with the Tuareg in Niger. Despite this resistance and physical remoteness there are also success stories of how trust can be achieved and health care successfully delivered to the Tuareg. This research demonstrates that even with enormous cultural, social and political resistance and under circumstances of poor infrastructure and limited resources, Western medicine is not only desired but can be delivered to remote populations. In my conclusion, I discuss the differential impact that sedentarization and recent famines have had on the way of life of the Tuareg and their access to health care.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access