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PUBH2011 Global Health: How do Lock and Nguyen Define Culture?

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Using your own words, and rephrasing the text, how do Lock and Nguyen define culture? (Again, rephrase or paraphrase the text's definition.)

Briefly describe one cultural group or cultural community to which you belong and identify. This can be anything that qualifies given the definition in the text--e.g. undergraduate students at AU, LGBTQ students of color, computer programmers, Arab-Americans, Palestinians, Christian Palestinians, queer Christian Palestinians, etc. ... whatever makes sense to you, given the definition of culture.

In the process, describe a health care or healing practice that is commonplace (although not monolithic or uncontested or required!) among members of this group, and describe what individual, biological, symbolic, social, political, or economic, etc. function(s) and/or what meaning(s) these have for you personally or for the group.


According to Margaret Lock and Nguyen, 2010 (47) culture can be classified as either using a biological approach or using the social approach. This stems from their definition of culture which seeks to state that culture is a complex whole unique to human beings which entails beliefs, morals, law, art, norms, customs and all other things that have been acquired by man by the virtue of belonging to a certain society. The biological aspects of culture attempts to explain the natural differences that make people to belong to a particular culture irrespective of socialization and civilization. This paper describes Palestinians as a cultural community; the common healing practices and the relevance these practices has for the group.

Palestinians are a group of people living in the Middle East whose cultural practices resemble those of the Arab countries in the Middle East and Asia. The main backbone of the economy is agriculture and manufacturing. Despite the fact that there is a professional class, Palestinians still honor traditional values such as the clan system and live in extended families despite the fact that their traditional systems collapsed with the creation of Israel in 1948. In the light that the Palestinians attached so much importance to the family, the values are still held to date whereby even children are taught family responsibilities.

Palestinians have somewhat culturally recognized values and practices which range from socialization to biological factors. They have a friendly nature which makes them very hospitable. They uphold honor and it is required of chastity from the women. They recognize social functions such as child birth and naming, weddings and funerals have also social importance. Some holidays are also culturally recognized such as the Feast of the Sacrifice and the end of the annual Hajj.

In the light of this discussion, there are also cultural health practices that are recognized by Palestinians Hudson, et al (93) Palestinians have been exposed to various traumatic events some of which are characteristic of the 1948 war which has made mental challenges to be so rampant. Most women have also suffered abuse. To Palestinian families, loss of a relative usually brings torment to the household equal to physical torture. The Palestinians have their generalized traditional explanations for mental illness and trauma.

Hudson, et al 2016 (77) Palestinians commonly believe that mental diseases are caused by possession of supernatural powers and forces that have entanglements. Mental illness causes stigma to the families and it thus becomes a common source of fear to the Palestinians. To the individuals, it mostly causes headaches, back pain and it may lead to rejection by family members. The traditional measures that have been employed to try and fight mental illness include counseling therapy and religious rites.

The modern government of Palestine has set up hospitals for mentally challenged people and several NGO’s have also expressed interest in support of mentally challenged people of Palestine. This has however not materialized to help common people of Palestine since the hospitals do not have a good reputation in Palestine. This has prompted majority of people to continue using counseling as a therapy and religious cleansing rites.

In conclusion, it is of great essence to note that the mental health conditions in Palestine do not have biological roots. They however remain to be the major threats to the Palestine people most probably because of both internal and external cultural factors.


Hudson, C. C., Adams, S., & Lauderdale, J. (2016). Cultural expressions of intergenerational trauma and mental health nursing implications for US health care delivery following refugee resettlement: an integrative review of the literature. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 27(3), 286-301.

Lock, Margaret, and Vinh-Kim Nguyen. An anthropology of biomedicine. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.

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