Health and Home in a Turkish Village

with Sylvia Wing Önder

hosted by Chris Gratien and Seçil Yılmaz

Download the episode

The subject of health in the modern period is often discussed as a transition from traditional to scientific medicine and what Foucault has called "the birth of the clinic." Such perspectives view medicine and healing through the lens of changing methods, forms of knowledge, and types of authority. In this podcast, our guest Sylvia Wing Önder offers a slightly different approach to the subject in a discussion of her monograph "We Have No Microbes Here (Carolina Academic Press, 2007)," looking at continuities in the centrality of households and women in making decisions about medical care within a Black Sea village.

Stream via Soundcloud

Dr. Sylvia Wing Önder has been teaching Turkish Language and Culture at Georgetown University since 1998. Students in her anthropology classes are encouraged to interrogate the power of national, biomedical, military, and educational discourse across cultures by examining constructed and constraining categorizations of citizenship, youth, gender, religiosity, consumer embeddedness, health, and disability.
Chris Gratien holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University's Department of History. His research focuses on the social and environmental history of the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. (see
Seçil Yılmaz is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at CUNY, Graduate Center where she is currently completing a dissertation on the history of syphilis, love, and medicine in the Ottoman Empire. (see

Note for instructors: Sylvia Wing Önder offers the possibility of Skype meetings in English or Turkish with classes that include "We Have No Microbes Here" in their course readings. This is a great opportunity for to students to share their thoughts and comments about the work and see behind the scenes of how research is made through personal conversation with the author.

Episode No. 210
Release date: 16 October 2015
Location: Şişli, Istanbul
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Musical excerpts from Istanbul'dan Ayva Gelir Nar Gelir - Azize Tozem and Sari RecepGiresun Karsilamasi (Altini Bozdurayim) - Bicoglu Osman

A traditional Black Sea bone-setter with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren (Photo credit: Sylvia Wing Önder)

Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic; An Archaeology of Medical Perception. New York: Pantheon Books, 1973.

Hamdy, Sherine. Our Bodies Belong to God Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. 

Önder, Sylvia Wing. We Have No Microbes Here: Healing Practices in a Turkish Black Sea Village. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2007.


Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.