Tawfiq Canaan

Physician, Military Person

1882 – 1964


Who was Tawfiq Canaan?

Tawfiq Canaan was a pioneering physician, medical researcher, ethnographer and Palestinian nationalist. Born in Beit Jala during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, he served as a medical officer in the Ottoman army during World War I. During British rule, he served as the first President of the Palestine Arab Medical Association founded in 1944, and as the director of several Jerusalem area hospitals before, during, and after the 1948 war. Over the course of his medical career, he authored more than 37 studies on topics including tropical medicine, bacteriology, malaria, tuberculosis and health conditions in Palestine, and contributed to research that led to a cure for leprosy.

Deeply interested in Palestinian folklore, popular beliefs, and superstitions, Canaan collected over 1,400 amulets and talismanic objects held to have healing and protective properties. His published analyses of these objects, and other popular folk traditions and practices, brought him recognition as an ethnographer and anthropologist. The several books and more than 50 articles he wrote in English and German serve as valuable resources to researchers of Palestinian and Middle Eastern heritage.

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Sep 24, 1882
Beit Jala
Also known as
  • Dr. Tawfiq Canaan
  • Lutheranism
  • Palestinian territories
  • American University of Beirut
Jan 15, 1964
East Jerusalem

on July 23, 2013


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