Week 1 Blog Post: Ashley Stratton

Ten Things that Anthropologists Can Do to Fight the West African Ebola Epidemic- Sharon Abramowitz

This article focused on the gap in productivity in studying the Ebola epidemic due to the lack of anthropologist involvement. Abramowitz introduced 10 specific roles anthropologists could play in epidemic research, as well as supporting the communities effected. These roles were supported with examples of how anthropologists played these roles in other epidemics globally.

I appreciate Abramowitz’s use of examples to support the claims made through the article. With this I can see the validity of studying epidemics but don’t see anthropology as an integral piece to stopping the spread of disease. At the forefront of disease research and prevention I still believe medical personnel play the most important role. I understand why Doctors Without Borders does not send anthropologists, and focuses on medically trained personnel. I think that this discourse should be further researched, but see more potential for anthropologists to study epidemics once they can be controlled and people are being saved, rather than as an outbreak is beginning.

Discussion Questions:

1.Further looking into the Doctors Without Borders conversation, when did the organization send medical anthropologists to a location, and what was their reasoning?

2.Would anthropologists conducting research on the ground in these areas be restricted to specific regions? How would their safety be guaranteed, in terms of preventing illness?

Notes from Case Zero: Anthropology in the time of Ebola- Almudena Marí Sáez, Ann Kelly and Hannah Brown

This article focused on researching how the Ebola outbreak began in various regions, and what differed in the time leading up to the outbreak. There was also a focus on how communities were reacting to the outbreak, whether it be in a positive or negative manner. These claims were being supported by on the ground research being conducted in communities effected by the epidemic.

I enjoyed this reading, I found that it read more like a story which could be understood through the emotion or argument of the people. It was vastly different from the previous article. I most appreciated the opinions of the communities who were opposed to the outbreak. It was interestingly noted that communities had been conducting the same practices throughout their history but the epidemic was only a recent occurrence. Due to their distrust of outsiders (specifically, colonizer figures perhaps), the communities did not want medical help to enter their space. Without having much information about what is happening around them I can understand their concerns and would agree with their caution. Overall, I felt that this article was interesting in that it gave a human perspective to a large scale, and often dehumanized issue.

Discussion Questions:

1.Using this perspective, rather than the list style article, is it easier to understand the importance of anthropologists in epidemics?

2.How can humanizing the issue change the approach to stopping, or dealing with, a medical outbreak?

*Could not find the first article through the WLU Library website.


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