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Panelists will discuss social issues around Ebola outbreak

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

LAWRENCE — The Kansas African Studies Center will sponsor a panel discussion on the Ebola outbreak featuring the perspectives of leading social scientists from the University of Kansas.

The Ebola Outbreak in Wider Perspective: Social Scientists Discuss Health, the State and Society in Africa will be 3:30-5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. The event is open to the public.

“The Kansas African Studies Center is responding to the expanding situation by bringing together a panel of scholars whose research is grounded in African contexts,” KASC Director Elizabeth MacGonagle said. “We think it is important to step back and examine various issues related to the Ebola outbreak and have an opportunity to come together to discuss such a serious situation.”

The panel will include faculty from the departments of Sociology, Psychology and Anthropology:

Ebenezer Obadare, associate professor of sociology, will focus on what epidemics reflect about the societies in which they occur. Obadare researches the civil society-state interface with particular interest in informal strategies of resistance under changing dynamics of rule. He has also published extensively on religion and politics, civic engagement, and civic service and citizenship in Nigerian and other African contexts.

Glenn Adams, associate professor of psychology, will discuss reactions to Ebola in West African settings and reflect on the outbreak as a manifestation of geopolitical-economic processes. His research focuses on the intersection of culture and psychology, and he publishes on sociocultural approaches to racism, oppression and liberation. Adams was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone.

Sandra Gray, associate professor of anthropology, will examine the biology, transmission and virulence of Ebola and analyze the failure of the international public health structure to contain the epidemic. Her current research focus is on health inequality and the effect of armed conflict and structural violence on maternal and child well-being in northeast Uganda.

The panel is co-sponsored by the Kansas African Studies Center, the Center for Global and International Studies, and the departments of African and African-American Studies, Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology.

Expert instruction in Arabic, Kiswahili, and Wolof at the beginning and intermediate levels will be offered over eight weeks in June-July 2018.

Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowships

The Kansas African Studies Center has received $140,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to launch public discussions, community programming, and the creation of educational resources in local communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding recent demographic changes in the region. Visit to learn more. 

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