Situated knowledge of pathogenic landscapes in Ghana: Understanding the emergence of Buruli ulcer through qualitative analysis

Petra Tschakert, Vincent Ricciardi, Erica Smithwick, Mario Machado, David Ferring, Heidi Hausermann, Leah Bug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Successfully addressing neglected tropical diseases requires nuanced understandings of pathogenic landscapes that incorporate situated, contexualized community knowledge. In the case of Buruli ulcer (BU), the role of social science is vital to investigate complex human-environment interactions and navigate different ways of knowing. We analyze a set of qualitative data from our interdisciplinary project on BU in Ghana, drawing from participatory mapping, focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, and open-ended survey questions to explore how people in endemic and non-endemic areas see themselves embedded in changing environmental and social landscapes. We pay particular attention to landscape disturbance through logging and small-scale alluvial gold mining. The results from our participatory research underscore the holistic nature of BU emergence in landscapes, encapsulated in partial and incomplete local descriptions, the relevance of collective learning to distill complexity, and the potential of rich qualitative data to inform quantitative landscape-disease models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-171
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume150
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Keywords

  • Buruli ulcer
  • Ghana
  • Gold mining
  • Neglected tropical diseases
  • Participatory research
  • Pathogenic landscapes
  • Situated knowledge
  • Social sciences

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