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Trust without Confidence: Moving Medicine with Dirty Hands

By Kali Rubaii

Cite As:
Rubaii, Kali. 2020. “Trust without Confidence: Moving Medicine with Dirty Hands.” Cultural Anthropology 35, no. 2: 211–217.


As participants in a small trust network smuggle medication across ISIS-controlled northern Iraq to hospitals in the besieged city of Mosul, they theorize their pragmatic entanglements with unknown others. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in 2014 and 2015, as well as the author’s participation in this network, the essay introduces enunciatory trust, or trust without confidence, as an analytical framework for surviving (in)security in Iraq.


Iraq; trust; medicine; ethics and collaboration; siege warfare; smuggling