I am a historian of modern African, and currently an Assistant Professor in the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. I am also a member of the African Studies Program's Executive Committee and a co-organizer of the African Studies Lecture Series since 2011. I've worked at the UO since 2011, teaching for the Departments of Anthropology, History, and International Studies. I received my Ph.D. in History and my Masters in Public Health from Boston University. I have worked domestically as a health educator with Planned Parenthood, and have led health outreach and advocacy programs in Botswana and Tanzania.
My research has an East Africa regional emphasis (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) and I employ a variety of historical and anthropological methods in investigating topics of interest. I am particularly committed to making research findings accessible to the larger public, and serving as a bridge to translate academic findings to practitioners working in the field. My hope is that careful histories of global health, biomedicine, and science in East Africa will provide useful information to help create more sensitive policy and research programs in these areas in the future.
The Experiment Must Continue
My book, The Experiment Must Continue: Medical Research and Ethics in East Africa, 1940-2014 (Ohio University Press, 2015) tells the story of human experimentation and medical ethics in East Africa from 1940 to the present. It is a history of the very real encounters that made up medical research in the region: of European doctors taking blood samples under cover of darkness; African assistants going door to door collecting stool samples in tarred jars; and of school children lined up to receive injections. It is also a recounting of peoples' responses to and understanding of these encounters. I spent time in more than 15 different places searching for documents or people who helped me reconstruct the history of medical research in the region: I discovered new archival materials Mwanza and Amani (Tanzania); interviewed residents of Ukara and Ukerewe Islands in Lake Victoria; and worked in archives in Nairobi and Kisumu.
To date, the book has been reviewed in the academic journals: Medical History, Medical Anthropology Quarterly the International Journal of African Historical Studies , the Journal of Modern African Studies, the Revue Politique Africaine, the Social History of Medicine, Isis, the African Studies Review and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History . It has also been written about in the Washington Post's blog, The Monkey Cage, discussed on the World Bank blog, Development Impact, by the CIHA blog and by the World Bank economist, David Evans. The University of Oregon's "Around the O" covered it here and it was the subject of a podcast episode on Ufahamu Africa. It is also being taught in history and African Studies courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level at places including Reed College, Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin Madison, the University of Birmingham, and the University of South Carolina.
I am engaged in a number of other research projects in East Africa and across the continent. UO undergraduates or graduate students who are interested in working as a research assistant in either Eugene or East Africa should contact me for opportunities. I run an invitation-only research group for undergraduates focused on social science approaches to global health. The application cycle is currently closed, but you can see past advertisements here.
Other projects that I am currently I am working on:
1) "Everyday Life on the African Continent: Fun, Leisure, and Expressivity," co-edited with Kemi Balogun, Habib Iddrisu, and Lisa Gilman. This volume focuses on the creative and dynamic ways that people in African contexts are using their leisure time, having fun, being creative, and engaging in forms of expressive culture. It is meant as a counterpoint to the bulk of materials available for undergraduate African Studies courses that emphasize war, poverty, corruption, disease, and human rights violations. The intended audience is lower-division undergraduate classes in African Studies, Folklore, Anthropology, and Sociology. This project has a pre-completion contract with Ohio University Press. We held a symposium on this topic at the UO on February 24, 2017, more information here.
2) "Health, Disease and Environment in Africa," co-edited with Daphne Gallagher. This collection of articles focuses on anthropological and historical approaches to the relationships between health, disease and environment. The book draws upon the broad and deep expertise of Oregon-based Africanists who work on related topics. A year-long set of activities will involve multiple writing workshops as a way to build intellectual community within the state and coherency and connections among the contributions. Scholars from UO, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Western Oregon University, Reed College, and Willamette College are all involved.
3) "Failures and the Loss of Trust: International Attempts at Malaria Elimination in Zanzibar, 1900-2016." This is a single-authored monograph project, in the analysis and writing stage, chronicling the history of failed malaria elimination attempts in Zanzibar and the resulting lack of trust between local residents and international public health organizations, such as the WHO and the Gates Foundation. I use the Zanzibar case to illustrate how behavior that is often termed “illogical” or “irrational” by global health workers is often rooted in deeper historical relationships and past encounters that public health experts don't acknowledge.
4) "The DHS: The Creation of a Global Tool." This is a single-authored monograph project, in the early stages of research, tracing the creation and growth of the ubiquitous “DHS” (Demographic and Health Survey), its widespread use in economic development and public health work, and the ethical questions surrounding the use of this tool.
Courses that I regularly offer within the Clark Honors College include:
HC 231: Epidemics and Epistemologies. Syllabus.
HC 232: Disease, Public Health and the Making of the Modern World. Syllabus.
HC 441: Medical Research/OHSU. You can read more about the class HERE.