Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Prestigious ESRC award for new Sierra Leonean Ebola response research

Mon Oct 03 20:48:00 BST 2016

 
“Poster

The research project will analyse the impact of emergency epidemic control strategies on young people’s political imagination and their relationship to the Sierra Leonean state.

 

Dr Luisa Enria has joined the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bath having won a prestigious ESRC Future Research Leaders fellowship.

This two year project entitled: States of Emergency: Citizenship in Times of Crisis in Sierra Leone will enable her to analyse the impact of emergency epidemic control strategies on young people’s political imagination and their relationship to the Sierra Leonean state.

 

A militarised response

The Ebola epidemic was seen as a ‘ threat to international peace and security’ and involved a highly militarised response to its containment only a decade after a devastating civil conflict.

Urban informal settlements in which thousands of cases were recorded, experienced emergency measures including lock-downs, militarised quarantines, restrictions on movement and right of assembly and the imposition of jail sentences for those escaping quarantined homes or engaging in unsafe burials. In this context, poor populations, being at high risk of transmission, became a security threat.

This project will explore how this securitisation response influenced young people’s political imaginations and their understanding of what it means to be a citizen in times of crisis.

Dr Enria will use discourse analysis, elite interviews and ethnographic methods to examine how young marginalised young people see themselves vis-à-vis the state in the aftermath of the epidemic.

 

Experiences and attitudes surrounding the Ebola outbreak

Prior to joining Bath as a Lecturer in International Development, Dr Enria was Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, working on a research project in Northern Sierra Leone looking at communities experiences of the Ebola outbreak and attitudes towards medical research, such as vaccine trials.

The research used ethnographic methods, interviews and life histories to understand people’s experiences and concerns surrounding new biomedical interventions and technologies in the context of an unprecedented epidemic.

Prior to this, her doctoral research at Oxford’s Department of International Development examined the political mobilisation trajectories of unemployed youth in Freetown, in order to challenge the assumption that there is a direct causal link between unemployment and political violence in post-conflict settings.