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Dr Sarah Howard

posts .icon { width: 20px; height: 20px; float: right; position: absolute; right: 30px; bottom: 30px; }Dr Sarah Howard

I will be joining the Connecting Three Worlds project as a postdoctoral researcher from January 2022. My ESRC-funded PhD in the Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths College, awarded in 2020, is an account of Ethiopia’s developmental state through the lens of its lowest-level employees. Through attention to the everyday lives of public servants, it contributes to understandings of labour, mobility and the state, and expands understandings of precarity in Africa beyond informal employment, as well as challenging received wisdom about the centrality of hierarchy in Ethiopian Studies. Based primarily on long-term ethnographic research with rural public servants, I explore how bodies, materials and substances are integral to the continual construction of the state, with a particular focus on health extension workers. I explored socialist-era legacies in contemporary health governance, and their particular gendered implications for female citizens and state employees. Prior to joining Birkbeck, I was ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham.

My contribution to the Connecting Three Worlds project will explore the contours, political and intellectual origins, and collaborative co-production of Derg-era public health at different scales, and trace its contemporary legacies in the practice and politics of global health in Ethiopia. As elsewhere, socialist-era health and medicine in Ethiopia was generally characterised by the linking of public health with wider revolutionary objectives, as well as by the primacy of preventative interventions. With an emphasis on maternal and infant health, this research will develop a counter-history that accounts for the continuing influence and impact of socialist formations within global health. It will contribute to three interlinked areas of interest: community health workers and gendered care; socialist internationalism and knowledge transfer; and negotiating post-socialist legacies in public health.



2021       ‘Feeding Babies, Making the State: Breastmilk as a Political Substance’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute [under review].

2018        ‘Coffee and the State in Rural Ethiopia.’ Anthropology Matters 18(1). Winner of the 2017 Christine Wilson Graduate Award by the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition.

Book Reviews

2021        Melaku Geboye Desta, Dereje Feyissa Dori, and Mamo Esmelealem Mihretu (eds.), ‘Ethiopia in the Wake of Political Reform’. Aethiopica: International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies 24 [in press].

Marco Di Nunzio, ‘The Act of Living: Street Life, Marginality, and Development in Urban Ethiopia’. Africa 91(1).