Hospital in Mali

Hospital in Mali. Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World Bank

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Call for papers for a conference on Health and Governance in Africa, Oct 29-30, 2010 at Stanford University USA

Health and governance in Africa

What are the links between the provision and distribution of health in Africa and economic changes, political reform, and transnational connections, in contemporary and historical frames? This conference seeks to foster conversation between scholars, policy experts, and practitioners that will address change and continuity in the relationship between health and governance in Africa.

2009 saw the launch of the Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry, an attempt to promote transparency in the growing field of medical research in Africa. Such trials at once provide some standard of health care while posing challenging ethical and political questions.  In 2006, 17 people died and over 80,000 sought medical attention in the Ivory Coast when 500 tons of toxic waste were dumped in the country by a Panamanian ship turned away from Amsterdam.  In 1901 the colonial administration of Lagos adopted a policy of racial segregation in an attempt to fight malaria and in the 1940s, to the same ends, they remade the city’s landscape by draining its
marshes as part of the War effort.

These examples make clear the extent to which health issues in Africa are and have long been thoroughly intertwined with questions of government and the state, political economy and the environment.

In order to explore this complex terrain, we have four core questions:

  • How are health and illness understood, debated, and achieved by different actors and agencies operating at local, national, and transnational scales?
  • How are circulations of drugs and illness, doctors and aid, capital and patents managed by citizens, patients, policy makers and health practitioners?
  • How does health become a site in which the boundaries between the state, the population, the body, NGOs, multinational corporations, and international development institutions are negotiated?
  • How are these developments historically produced and what are their effects on the provision of health care?

How to submit a paper

Stanford’s Student Forum for African Studies invites submissions for 15-minute presentations or papers from a wide range of disciplines - anthropology, environmental studies, engineering, history, legal studies, medicine and public health, political science, psychology, science studies, sociology – that touch on the above questions.

Submissions could address broad trends or specific cases. Potential panel topics include:

  • Security, conflict, and humanitarianism
  • Ecology, land use, and urban planning
  • Histories of colonial and postcolonial public health
  • Informal economies of care
  • Health as a public good
  • Climate change, pollution, and public health
  • Access to clean water and sanitation
  • Migration, mobility, and displacement
  • Mental health and psycho-social well being
  • Gender, sexuality, and reproductive health
  • Labor and personnel in medical infrastructure
  • Customary law
  • Legal struggles for the human right to health
  • Political mobilizations around treatment
  • Medical pluralism
  • Privatization of health services
  • Injuries, accidents, and occupational health
  • Nutrition and food security

Abstracts or descriptions of the presentations, posters, or papers should be no longer than 250 words and should include your name, email address and telephone number, as well as your university and department affiliations.  Eligibility: Although we strongly encourage graduate students, we also welcome submissions from undergraduates, professionals, post-doctoral researchers, lecturers, professors, activists, and practitioners.

Papers and presentations on related topics in ALL DISCIPLINES and from ALL INSTITUTIONS, PROGRAMS AND ORGANIZATIONS will be considered.

abstracts: August 1, 2010
papers/detailed outlines for discussants: October 19, 2010

Abstracts or descriptions may be sent via email to: 

Erin K. Pettigrew
PhD Student
Department of History
Stanford University

Dialogues : A Postgraduate Symposium on Visual Arts and Culture, Johannesburg Oct 2010 Conference : From Impunity to Accountability – Africa’s Development in the 21st Century, Nov 2010 Conclusions of the International Conference on Global Africans, Pan-Africanism, Decolonisation and Integration of Africa – Past, Present and Future (Abuja, 21 – 24 September 2010) A literature review of district health systems in East and Southern Africa Conference: Assessing 50 Years of Scholarship and Development in Africa, June 2012, Nairobi

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