Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



First Advisor

Cassandra White


Congenital heart disease affects tens of thousands of children and families throughout Iraq, where complex surgical treatment remains largely unavailable. Through participant-observation and in-depth interviews, I investigated the understandings of this disorder among families in two areas: Kurdish northern Iraq and Arab southern Iraq. I pay particular attention to families’ perspectives on causes and treatment of the disorder in relation to historical and current macrosocial forces. Among the families I spoke with, there is a strong connection between the recent history of violence in Iraq and congenital heart disease. This thesis is largely an attempt to understand the uses and implications of this connection between sickness and violence for Iraqi families pursuing treatment through an international non-governmental organization.