Working in partnership with people affected by and responding to humanitarian crises around the world, we conduct interdisciplinary social science research of and for humanitarian responses which deepens and challenges our understanding of how best to tackle the health impacts of humanitarian crises.
Our research focuses on key areas of humanitarian policy and practice
Our team comprises a number of interdisciplinary social scientists, including medical anthropologists, political scientists, health systems researchers, health economists and social epidemiologists.
The Medical Humanitarianism group brings together a diverse group of social scientists with a common interest in using interdisciplinary social science approaches to support, improve and—when necessary—critique responses to humanitarian crises. We work with people across the world who are affected by ongoing humanitarian crises, whose health is still shaped by ‘past’ crises, and/or who are particularly at-risk of experiencing humanitarian crises in the future. Our commitment to intersectional and interdisciplinary research provides a holistic perspective on how the multiple social, economic, political, and environmental dimensions of humanitarian crises impact on health and wellbeing.
Most of our work is organised through LSHTM’s Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre. Our research topics include:
- Humanitarian practice and policy
- Public authority, localised responses and local accountability in humanitarian contexts
- Women’s, children’s and adolescent health in humanitarian crisis settings
- Mental health in protracted displacement settings
- Health systems and health financing in refugee and mass displacement settings
- Health and security in settings affected by political conflict and violence
- Covid-19 responses in crisis-affected contexts, including research on direct and indirect impacts
MH is connected to a number of other groups and centres at the school, including:
Our main research projects include:
Local evidence use & accountability in humanitarian crises & epidemics
As part of the ‘Research capacity strengthening and knowledge generation to support preparedness and response to humanitarian crises and epidemics’ project (RECAP), GHD anthropologists are involved in a series of ongoing studies to understand how knowledge and evidence is produced, used and translated within humanitarian contexts, including how this relates to the concept of localisation.
RECAP-funded studies that address these themes include:
- Epidemic decision-making in Bangladesh/Cox’s Bazaar settlements (Diphtheria) and Somalia (COVID-19)
- The lives & livelihoods of displaced healthcare workers in Uganda
- Generating local expertise for sleeping sickness diagnosis in South Sudan
- Partnership functioning to combine research and response within the UK’s public health rapid support team
- Babies born too soon in humanitarian settings: a case study of Lebanon
- Framing vernacular Evidence? evidence-Informed humanitarian assistance in the localisation of aid era
- Lessons learnt from epidemic modelling for decision-making at LSHTM in the COVID-19 response
Resourses & publications
Research Evidence in the Humanitarian Sector: A Practice Guide. Blanchet, K., Allen, C., Breckon, J., Davies, P., Duclos, D., Jansen, J., Mthiyane, H. & Clarke, M. 2018. London, UK: Evidence Aid, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Nesta (Alliance for Useful Evidence).
COVID-19 in the Context of Forced Displacement: Perspectives from the Middle East and East Africa. Duclos, D. & Palmer, J. 2020. Social Science & Humanitarian Action Platform.
Contested legitimacy for anthropologists involved in medical humanitarian action: experiences from the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic. Lees, S., Palmer, J., Procureur, F. & Blancket, K. 2020. Anthropology & Medicine, 27(2).
Sensing sleeping sickness: local symptom-making in South Sudan. Palmer, J.J. 2019. Medical Anthropology, 39(6).
Understanding the Role of the Diagnostic 'Reflex' in the Elimination of Human African Trypanosomiasis. Palmer JJ; Jones C; Surur EI; Kelly AH. 2020. Tropical Medicine & Infectious Disease.
- BRANCH consortium
BRANCH consortium content
- Pandemic Preparedness: local and global concepts and practices in tackling disease threats in Africa
The research examines ‘preparedness from below’ – the understandings and practices of communities through which they anticipate and manage disease threats such as COVID-19 on a daily basis. We aim to identify entry points and pathways for connecting global, intermediate and local ‘assemblages’ in ways that build on, enhance and support the legitimacy and agency of communities’ ‘preparedness from below’. Ethnographic fieldwork is being conducted in Sierra Leone and Uganda.
People:Melissa Parker Fred Martineau
Parker, M., MacGregor, H and Akello, G 2020. COVID-19, public authority and enforcement. Medical Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1080/01459740.2020.1822833
Baluku, M., Akello, G., Parker, M and Grant, C 2020. How the ‘disease of the radio’ is affecting people on the Uganda-DRC border. https://www.ids.ac.uk/opinions/covid-19-how-the-disease-of-the-radio-is-affecting-people-on-the-uganda-drc-border/
MacGregor, H., Leach, M., Wilkinson, A and Parker, M. 2020. Covid-19 – a social phenomenon requiring diverse expertise. https://www.ids.ac.uk/opinions/covid-19-a-social-phenomenon-requiring-diverse-expertise/
Partner organisations include:Institute of Development Studies, Sussex Centre Régional de Recherche et de Formation à la prise en charge de Fann (CRCF, Senegal) Institut de recherche pour le développement Njala University
- Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform
The Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) focuses on the social dimensions of emergency responses (https://www.socialscienceinaction.org/).
Building on the Ebola Response Anthropology Platform, the Platform works on emergencies that relate to health, conflict or the environment. The aim is to support responses which are effective, adaptive, contextually informed, sensitive to vulnerabilities and power relations, planned in consultation with affected communities and local institutions, and based on social and interdisciplinary science and evidence.
SSHAP involves a partnership between the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex; Anthrologica & LSHTM
- The Politics of Return: Return and Reintegration of refugees and IDPs in Central and East Africa
This multi-disciplinary, collaborative project analyses how refugees, internally-displaced persons and former combatants negotiate and experience ‘return’ and ‘reintegration’. Drawing on history, anthropology and political science, the project focuses on the everyday experiences of return; the relationship between return and ‘cycles of violence’; and the multiple ways in which return influences governance and public authority across diverse settings.
The project includes long term follow-up research with former combatants from the Lord’s Resistance Army, northern Uganda, as well as research with children born of war i.e. children who returned from life with the LRA with their mothers more than a decade ago, and whose fathers were LRA commanders.
This project has received funds from the AHRC (2017-2019), RECAP (2017-Present) and CPAID (2017-Present)
- Parker, M., Fergus, C., Brown, C., Atim, D., Ocitti, J., Atingo, J and Allen, T (in press). Legacies of Humanitarian Neglect: Long Term Experiences of Children who Returned from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Conflict and Health.
- Torre, C., Mylan, S., Parker, M and Allen, T 2020. Is promoting war trauma a good idea? Anthropology Today 35 (6): 3-6.
- Allen, T., Atingo, J., Atim, D., Ocitti, J., Brown, C., Torre,C., Fergus, C., Parker, M. 2020. What happened to children who returned from the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda? Journal of Refugee Studies, 33 (4): 639-662,