Sarah Miller-Fellows

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Case Western Reserve U.

Grant number

Gr. 9294

Approve Date

April 19, 2016

Project Title

Miller-Fellows, Sarah C., Case Western Reserve U., Cleveland, OH - To aid research on 'Reproduction in the Context of Genetic Disorders among the Geauga County, Ohio Amish,' supervised by Dr. Vanessa Hildebrand

Preliminary abstract: Interactions between reproductive practice, technology and religious beliefs are core interests of anthropology. The expansion of biomedical knowledge and technology characteristic of the early 21st century has provided a rich array of anthropological interest in the new ‘social life of DNA’ (Nelson 2010). The intersection of reproduction and new technology is of particular interest because of how new technology inspires renegotiation of pregnancy and birth. This study examines the Amish community response to their high burden of genetic disorders in order to better understand how humans interact with emerging biological technologies and how they organize around common health concerns to create culturally appropriate care. The Old Order Amish have a high burden of genetic disorders due to founder effect. Amish settlements have raised and contributed funds to create advanced clinics for the treatment and study of the genetic diseases. These clinics have transformed the prognosis of some common genetic disorders in this community from severe disability and early death to manageable illness with normal functioning. Researchers will interview fathers in Geauga County, Ohio and providers at clinics in the Lancaster County Pennsylvania and Wayne-Holmes County Ohio Amish communities to add an important complement to previous data collected from Amish mothers, grandmothers and religious leaders in the Geauga County Amish community and the clinic serving that community. Findings from this research will improve understanding of how to create successful, community supported, culturally competent healthcare systems, how communities respond to genetic disorders, and how new technology can influence reproductive behavior.