Call for Papers: “Taking account of context: anthropology in the evaluation of global health interventions"
Panel proposal for “MAGic2015. Anthropology and Global Health: interrogating theory, policy, and practice” (joint conference organised by the EASA Medical Anthropology Network and RAI Medical Anthropology Committee)
University of Sussex, UK, 9-11 September 2015.
Convenors: Ursula Read (University of Glasgow), Danny Wight (University of Glasgow), Matthew Maycock (University of Glasgow)
Deadline for Paper Proposals: 27th April 2015
Once dismissed as a confounder, context has gained increasing attention in the evaluation of global health interventions through recognition of 'complexity' and the dynamic interaction between intervention and context. This is particularly pertinent in global health where 'local contexts' have been traditionally conceived as problematic cultural differences in behaviour and beliefs. From an ecological perspective, however, context includes not only individual and community characteristics but global political, economic and historical influences. This recognition of intervention outcomes as context dependent has led to calls for the contribution of social science, including anthropology, to discover 'what works, for whom, why and in what circumstances'. However there are challenges in accounting for the broader context and in aligning anthropology's critical interpretive approach with the programmatic objectives of health interventions. Though ethnography is increasingly valued to appraise implementation on the ground, anthropology extends beyond this to a historical and comparative consideration of evaluation itself as cultural process.
We call for papers which engage with the challenges and opportunities presented by this ethnographic turn in evaluating health interventions, particularly critical appraisals from anthropologists working in this field. Questions may include: What are the challenges of conducting ethnography within the constraints of research budgets and timelines? How can anthropology as critical practice be operationalised? How do insights from anthropological inquiry intersect with other approaches to evaluation? How can anthropology span differences of scale contained in a broader notion of context? How might ethnographic approaches to evaluation within low-income settings inform those in high-income settings, and vice-versa?