Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, University of Tennessee / Chattanooga

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
Knowledge Production in the African AIDS Epidemic: The Rakai Health Sciences Program

With the contemporary emphasis on evidence-based practices in public health it is more important than ever to understand how that evidence is manufactured and brought to the attention of policy makers. Over the past thirty years experts have amassed an enormous body of knowledge about the microbiology, epidemiology, treatment, and prevention of AIDS in Africa. However, we know almost nothing about how this knowledge was produced. This project aims to fill this gap by using written and oral sources to trace the history of AIDS research at one of the most important AIDS research sites in Africa: the Rakai Health Sciences Program (RHSP). This project will address the following questions: How were research agendas and questions defined by the RHSP? How was AIDS research shaped by local politics, economics, and institutional arrangements? How have these decisions, conditions, and relationships changed over time in relation to the shifting nature of the AIDS epidemic, fluctuations in priorities of funding agencies, and changes in the global commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa? As a case study in knowledge production by an internationally-funded, African research team, the RHSP offers an exceptional opportunity to observe the creation of biomedical evidence within a global network. By applying the methods of historians of science and medicine as well as local history and ethnography, this study aims to inform the ways that consumers of this evidence assess its value and relevance.