This post introduces a new voice on this website. I am the new postdoctoral fellow.
The first months of a new project are always exciting, getting to know a new place of work, new people, reading and drawing up plans. A central interest emerging is in mHealth (or Mobile Health) initiatives and their use among marginalized urban residents in Cape Town.
This summer and fall I will be presenting ideas about how to approach mHealth initiatives as practice at two international conferences.
At the 14th EASA Biennial Conference I’ll be joining a group of esteemed medical anthropologists who have been wondering about "social contagion" in its epidemic forms in relation to non-communicable diseases. They take as their starting point that problems like obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, trauma, autism, drug use, ADHD etc. are communicable phenomena. If this is so, what are relevant units of analysis and scale to theorize these contagious connections? My contribution to the panel seeks to create convergence around the ideas and concepts of “connection” emerging in medical anthropology and in anthropological studies of (new) media. The role of new media technologies and the relational work of connecting, of creating social units that are simultaneously thoroughfares and endpoints, may be a worthwhile place to look if we are concerned with how non-communicable diseases spread.
Later this year, I will be sharing ideas and perhaps initial impressions from the field with a panel of expert media researchers at the ICA Regional Conference in Nairobi. Our common goal is to bring forth critical perspectives on the interrelations between new media and processes of socio-cultural and political changes in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. Presenting cases from across the region, exploring different dimensions such as gender, health and politics, the panel is bound to raise exciting discussions.
The two panels highlight the academic conversations that this new voice on this website, and in the MediAfrica project, speaks to. And goes to show that though medical anthropology and media anthropology may be considered as distinct sub-fields, specialized strands of conversation and trains of thought converge around questions of change, communication, media and technology.