The project is concerned with public health messaging during the recent Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. A key tension to emerge during the outbreak was at the interface between international health agencies and local populations. This was exacerbated by failures of communication, which often took the top-down, unidirectional form of international experts ‘educating’ local populations about infection control, rather than more dialogical approaches based on knowledge exchange.

The project considers how lessons learned during the Ebola epidemic are informing initiatives intended to strengthen preparedness for possible future health crises. In particular the project will engage with the National Ebola Museum being established at Njala University, where an archive of materials and oral testimonies is being assembled.

It is anticipated that the methodology will be broadly ethnographic, but the project will also employ interdisciplinary approaches drawn from media/communication studies and public health. It is envisaged that the research will be at least partly based at the National Ebola Museum and that the student will assemble materials that will be deposited at the Museum, as well as working with the existing archive. Research will be conducted with a range of communities throughout Sierra Leone, as well as with individuals directly involved in mediating messages as part of the Ebola response.

Candidates should have a strong academic track record including a Master’s degree in anthropology (or an anthropological subfield such as media anthropology, medical anthropology or visual anthropology). The studentship would suit candidates with interests across anthropology, public health, media, and global processes, and particularly those with an interest in West African visual culture and popular community media. Previous experience in West Africa would be advantageous.

Application deadline: February 15.

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