Mats Utas. Photo: Ola Lundström.
Mats Utas. Photo: Ola Lundström.

In this episode AnthroTalking interviews Mats Utas. Mats has had a lot of public exposure lately in Sweden as part of the Swedish response team for the West African Ebola epidemic and we talk to him about issues of public perception and institutional mobilisation in tackling a public health crisis that has achieved surprising notoriety.

Mats Utas is an Associate Professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology at Uppsala University and a long-time researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute. He is best known for his acclaimed anthropological studies of conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Somalia. He blogs at

Mats talks about the role of the anthropologist in the middle of a public health crisis and the cultural impact of a globally mediated epidemic. He brings his expertise and situated knowledge of the area into interpreting an outbreak that has been generalised and misrepresented by news sources and casting new light on one of the most mediated chapters, the so-called West Point crisis.

Published on:

March 10, 2015

Created by:

Dragoș C. Costache


International Intervention, Ebola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mats Utas

Further information:


  • Andersson, Ruben 2014, Illegality, Inc: Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Briggs, Charles 2014, “Dear Dr. Freud.” Cultural Anthropology 29, no. 2 (2014): 312-343.
  • Byler, Darren, “Charles Briggs on Epidemics, Psychoanalysis and the Work of Mourning.” Fieldsights - AnthroPod: The SCA Podcast, Cultural Anthropology Online, November 19, 2014,
  • Ferguson, James 1990, The anti-politics machine: “development,” depoliticization, and bureaucratic power in Lesotho, CUP Archive.

Cite as:

Dragoș C. Costache ”Mats Utas on the Ebola epidemic and the role of the anthropologist in global health crises” AnthroTalking: Podcasts at Stockholm University's Department of Social Anthropology, online March 10, 2015,


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