34. Ebola Outbreak – From the American Anthropological Association


Learning outcome

After completing this activity, the student will be familiar with the concept of culture and particularly tradition. They will also gain some understanding knowledge on the importance of anthropological knowledge in humanitarian interventions.


Please watch the video ‘2015 AAA Invited Session: Are we Anthropologists’ from the American Anthropological Association and answer the quiz below.


Humanitarian agencies without doubt recognise that anthropological knowledge can translate across boundaries and be part of larger world of knowledge production. The outbreak of Ebola made possible to convey ethnographic facts of culture, disciplines and communities of practice to humanitarian and medical responders in the affected regions. The knowledge of anthropologists and their work with humanitarian interventions was certainly much more relevant in the Ebola outbreak than in any other case before. The knowledge of community resistance revealed how much power relationships play a role to defining categories, events, actions and activities as reactions to the events to which maybe anthropological knowledge can contribute.

As a result, a platform was formed the UK based Ebola Response Anthropology Platform but documents and studies can be found also on the American Anthropological Association and the Francophone SHS Ebola Network (Reseau Ouest Africain Anthropologie des Epidemies Emergentes). Some of the videos are also available on YouTube.

Take quiz

Question 11 pts

According to the video, anthropologists brought to light most significant ethnographic facts and were able to mobilise collective Ebola response. What did the significant details refer to?

Question 21 pts

Ethnocentrism is a universal attitude derived from the feeling that one’s culture is preferable to others. In the video which of the following does Mary Moran mention were considered as having more privileged knowledge by the international community?

Question 31 pts

Which cultural anthropologist does this quote belong to: Ritual and bereavement should not be collapsed into one another because they neither fully encapsulate nor fully explain one another. Instead rituals are often but points along a number of longer processual trajectories.

Question 41 pts

Through content analysis from journal and press reports, the practices of washing, bathing, kissing and touching the corpse were considered as traditional by the locals. What were these treated as by the journalists, public health officials and anthropologists? (Tick all that apply)

Question 51 pts

What was the emphasis given in local practices by the anthropologists to directly confront the mainstream understanding of African culture and tradition which resulted in welcoming new perspectives for biomedical professionals and for collaborations with them in future outbreaks or humanitarian challenges? (Tick all that apply)

This site uses cookies to enhance user experience and to track usage statistics. For more information, see NOHA’s Data Privacy Policy.