Key research areas

  • History of Islamic medicine:

Ragab’s work focuses on the history of Islamic medicine as a practice rooted in interactions between patients and practitioners, and cognizant of pressures of professional life as well as constraint of medical theory. In the words of one reviewer of his work: “Other scholars in this area often focus on the complex relationships between and among texts; Ragab reads these texts to bring to life the sophisticated medical world that produced them… [Ragab’s work] appeals to [specialists] as well as a larger medical audience with an interest in history.”

  • Colonial and postcolonial medicine

Ragab investigated the introduction of European colonial medicine in the Middle East and Islamic world focusing on changes in medical education and medical practice, and on the training of physicians in colonial schools. His most recent works have paid attention to the affective economies underwriting the making of colonial and postcolonial science and medicine. He is particularly interested in “clinical cultures,” understood as how physicians and patients understood and communicated their knowledge and their practice, and how they changed across colonial and postcolonial divides.

  • Gender and sexuality

Ragab’s publications addressed how medical knowledge and practice influenced the definition and categorization of genders and sexes from the medieval period, and how medical knowledge impacted the naturalization of particular sexual practices over time.

  • Medical ethics

Ragab is a recognized scholar in discussions around Muslim bioethics. In recent article (under review), Ragab engages with contemporary Western medical ethics, which he terms “the Belmont Ethics Regime” (in reference to the Belmont report) and how this system influences racial and religious minorities, such as Muslim patients and physicians. He proposes a different framework for thinking about ethics as spaces for negotiation and mutual governance of medical practice that pay attention to questions of race, gender, sexuality and religion.

He also received grants to support ongoing research on “Physicians of Confidence.” In Muslim communities, the role of the bioethicist is mostly assumed by physicians (often called “Physicians of confidence”) who are deemed “trustworthy,” often in consultation with religious scholars. This study analyzes the religious basis, historical development and contemporary practices of experts producing Muslim bioethics.

  • Access to healthcare and health outcomes

Ragab received grants to support a research project investigating the reasons behind rising rates of C-sections in the Middle East, with a focus on United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The project uses a mixed methods approach, deploying quantitative and qualitative data with historical and epidemiological research to investigate: (1) local medical protocols on C-sections, (2) physicians’ views and perceptions of the procedure, indications and views on elective C-sections, (3) patients views and perceptions of the procedure, complications, recovery and elective C-sections, (4) local medical views on VBAC, (5) institutional structures that may be influencing this phenomenon (including use of anesthesia, prenatal care, cost of medical care, etc). The research team, led by Ragab, commenced the first stages of the project by conducting quantitative surveys in UAE. Next stages are planned for the summer and next year.