Webinar: Understanding and Addressing the Pandemic – Insights from Anthropology

14 April, 13:00 UTC | 15:00 CEST
Webinar: Understanding and Addressing the Pandemic – Insights from Anthropology

The ISC presents its fifth webinar in a six-part series on COVID and the Social Sciences, Understanding and Addressing the Pandemic: Insights from Anthropology.

The series explores the impact of the social sciences on the pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on the social sciences. Already, the series has covered Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, and now Anthropology. The final episode in the series will cover Statistics.

This webinar will address the following two questions:

Watch the recording:


Times refer to UTC.

Start times: London: 14:00 | Paris 15:00 | Nairobi: 16:00 | Delhi 18:30 | New York 09:00

13:00 – 13:05Welcome and Introduction to the Chair by Anita Nudelman, Chair of the Commission on the Anthropology of Pandemics at IUAES
13:05 – 13:10Introduction to the topic by Craig Calhoun
13:10 – 13:45Keynote lecture by Melissa Leach
13:45 – 14:05Comments from the discussants
14:05 – 14:20Further Discussion, Q&A
14:20 – 14:25Closing remarks


Melissa Leach, Keynote speaker

Melissa Leach is a Social Anthropologist and Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex. She co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre (www.steps-centre.org) from 2006 – 2014. She has carried out long-term ethnographic fieldwork in West Africa while engaging with scientific, policy and public discourses and debates around health, sustainability and development, including programmes leading to the books Vaccine Anxieties (2007) and Epidemics: Science, Policy and Social Justice (2010). Amongst external roles, she was lead author of the 2016 World Social Science Report 2016 on Challenging Inequalities, is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and of the International Science Council’s Committee on Science Planning. She was the lead social scientist in the UK/WHO responses to the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak and co-led the award-winning Ebola Response Anthropology Platform. She is now working on COVID-19 as co-lead of the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform and the Wellcome Trust-funded Pandemic Preparedness Project, involving a team of anthropologists in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Senegal and the UK. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2017 was awarded a CBE for Services to Social Science.

Anita Nudelman, Welcome and Introduction of the Chair

Anita Nudelman (Ph.D.) is an applied medical anthropologist and a lecturer at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University in Israel. Her areas of expertise include comprehensive sexuality education, culture-sensitive health care, gender issues and prevention of GBV. As a consultant for international organizations, she has led community-based Rapid Assessment Processes on culture and gender barriers to maternal and HIV health services, mostly in Africa. She is Chair of the IUAES Commission on Anthropology of Pandemics.

Craig CalhounChair

Craig Calhoun is University Professor of Social Sciences at Arizona State University. Previously, he was Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), President of the Berggruen Institute, and President of the Social Science Research Council. His publications address politics, economics, the impact of technology, and social change.

Lenore Manderson, Discussant

Lenore Manderson is Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology in the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, which she joined in 2014 after a distinguished career in Australia. Her work is concerned with inequality and the social context of infectious and chronic diseases. Her book, Viral Loads, edited with Nancy J.Burke and Ayo Wahlberg, was published in 2021 and provided an early examination of how in different contexts, COVID exploited and magnified inequality. In 2021, she was Team Leader, Social Sciences and Health Policy Research, Science Policy Engagement to Support Evidence-Informed Policy Responses to COVID-19 in Africa, and she is lead author of the chapter on vulnerability for the second South African Report on COVID. She has written, edited and co-edited 29 books, and has published over 700 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and technical reports.

Paschal Kum Awah, Discussant

Paschal Kum Awah is the Chair of Anthropology at the University of Yaounde I, Cameroon. He consultants for several governmental and international organizations. Has extensively researched and published in reproductive health, neglected tropical diseases, epidemics and COVID-19, cardiovascular diseases and research ethics. He is a Board Member of the WIRB-WCG Copernicus Group, USA, a member of the Member of the African Union (AU) Scientific Research and Innovation Council for Translational Research and of the IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Pandemics.

Francisco Ortega, Discussant

Francisco Ortega is ICREA (Catalan Institution of Research and Advanced Studies) Research Professor at the Medical Anthropology Research Center, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona. He is also Visiting Professor at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine of King’s College, London. He is member of the Advisory Board of the Movement for Global Mental Health and the Steering Committee of the Global Social Medicine Network. His research investigates among other the interactions between global biopsychiatry and local psychiatric epistemologies; the revitalization of social medicine as a vital intersection of social sciences, medical practice and policy and the emergence of new forms of solidarity and mutual aid in the context of the health and economic crisis of the covid-19 pandemic.

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Image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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