Current Institutional Affiliation
Visiting Scholar, Center for Science, Medicine, Technology, and Society, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
Creativity in Crisis: Cancer Research in Uganda from the 1950s to the present

My dissertation uses historical and ethnographic methods to understand the interactions between resource-rich, internationally funded research projects and crisis-ridden government health services that characterize medical care in eastern and central Africa today. I examine the history of cancer care and research in Uganda from the 1950s to the present as an early case study of this interaction. Using the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) as my main field site, which was established with American research dollars in the 1960s, I explore how transnational research collaborations have shaped the ways Ugandan physicians and nurses have engaged in everyday practices of providing clinical care and conducting medical research. In particular, I ask how medical practitioners continued their work through a period of political disruption and the extensive HIV/AIDS epidemic in Uganda. I explore to what extent this durability is a result of creativity in times of crisis, and consider how innovations by local Ugandans to reinterpret international research agendas and reallocate resources during Idi Amin’s regime in the 1970s were used in the 1980s and 1990s to establish international collaborations. More than an institutional history of African biomedical research, my project historicizes how international medical research on human subjects shapes local contexts of care, and in turn how local researchers harness the resources these collaborations bring to provide care and generate knowledge under challenging circumstances.