Case Studies on Contemporary Social Issues book by Barry Hewlett and Bonnie Hewlett. In this case study, readers will embark on an improbable journey through the heart of Africa to discover how indigenous people cope with the rapid-killing Ebola virus. The Hewletts are the first anthropologists ever invited by the World Health Organization to join a medical intervention team and assist in efforts to control an Ebola outbreak. Their account addresses political, structural, psychological, and cultural factors, along with conventional intervention protocols as problematic to achieving Continue reading →
“We are your brothers and sisters, we could never lie to you” says 60-year-old Marianne, as she walks from her motorbike towards a group of angry people in village Katkama. She opens her hand and offers a cola nut and a little money. It is a sign of peace and respect – and, in this case, the gesture works – the villagers begin to listen.
Haemorrhagic fevers have, par excellence, captured popular and media imagination as deadly diseases to come ‘out of Africa’. Associated with wildlife vectors in forested environments, viral haemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Marburg and lassa fever figure high in current concern about so-called ‘emerging infectious diseases’, their hotspots of origin and threat of global spread. Outbreak narratives have justified rapid and sometimes draconian international policy responses and control measures. Yet there is a variety of other ways of framing haemorrhagic fevers. There present different views concerning Continue reading →
Viruses that cause haemorrhagic fevers have been popularized by the media as fierce predators that threaten to devastate global populations. Professor Melissa Leach says there is much to learn from combining local and scientific knowledge in dealing with these deadly pathogens.
As the worst Ebola epidemic on record shows no signs of abating in West Africa, fear and ignorance are increasingly said to be playing a role in its continued spread. Meanwhile, local practices such as the consumption of bushmeat and deforestation are the go-to explanations for the epidemic’s underlying causes. However, decades of anthropological research in the region by STEPS Centre and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) researchers, indicates not only that this picture is an over-simplification, but that disease control policies based on these ideas may be unhelpful.
The study analyzes the traditional beliefs and practices concerning leprosy of the Limba people of Sierra Leone. It shows that this dialectally diverse ethnic group has two views of leprosy and its cause, and two varieties of stigma associated with the disease. The Limba have abandoned their traditional treatments for leprosy in response to an effective leprosy control programme, but retained their traditional world view, including its definition of illness, which holds a person seriously ill only when he has severe pain or disability. Thus, Continue reading →
This is a chapter on Kissi Funerals in the region of Guekedou and Kissidougou. Whilst this is based on fieldwork conducted in 1945-6, many of the ritual practices and meanings were current and observed in Kissi villages in 1991-3. For the Kissi, every life has three critical moments: birth, initiation, death. The primary role of the funeral ritual is to allow access to the rank of an ancestor; a more elevated social rank. Hence the first hours are given to expressing pain (or gladness for Continue reading →
People who live in the Sherbro coastal area of Sierra Leone have a social organisation based upon descent from named ancestors and acestresses. Ancestors, the living, and those not yet born constitute a great chain of being. This continuum of existence is punctuated, and made discontinuous, by rites of passage (birth, puberty, death). Dying is a period of categorical ambiguity in which a person is still among the mundane living, but babbles of the past, a sign that he or she is also in the Continue reading →