Advertisement

Taking Life ‘Off Hold’: Pregnancy and Family Formation During the Ebola Crisis in Freetown, Sierra Leone

  • Jonah LiptonEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)

Abstract

The chapter describes a young couple attempting to start a family during the Ebola crisis in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The chapter demonstrates the ways that the onerous rules and regulations of the state of emergency—that seemingly relied on an underlying assumption that life could be put ‘on hold’ until the virus was defeated—made the processes of biological and social reproduction especially challenging to perform. For Freetown residents, however, family formation and social continuity remained a priority, and it is suggested that such responses were both central to surviving the crisis, yet were also reflective of the ongoing difficulties and dangers surrounding reproduction in a context with a weak formal health infrastructure and widespread material scarcity. The chapter is based upon 17 months of ethnographic fieldwork, immediately before and during the Ebola crisis.

Keywords

Ebola outbreak Freetown Sierra Leone Pregnancy Family formation Reproduction State of emergency Anthropology West Africa Pregnancy Ceremony Marriage Stigma Wedding Childbirth Congo Town Family life 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The research for this chapter was generously supported by the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, the Halperin Memorial Fund, the Alfred Gell Memorial Studentship, and the ESRC Centre for Public Authority and International Development grant: ES/P008038/1.

References

  1. Fyfe, C. (1962). A history of Sierra Leone. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Johnson-Hanks, J. (2002). On the limits of life stages in ethnography: Toward a theory of vital conjunctures. American Anthropologist, 104(3), 865–880.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Lipton, J. (2017). ‘Black’ and ‘white’ death: Burials in a time of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23(4), 801. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Robinson, J., & Pfeiffer, J. (2015, February 2). The IMF’s role in the Ebola outbreak: The long-term consequences of structural adjustment. Retrieved October 7, 2017, from http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2015/02/imfs-role-ebola-outbreak/.
  5. Strong, A., & Schwartz, D. A. (2016). Sociocultural aspects of risk to pregnant women during the 2013-2015 multinational Ebola virus outbreak. Health Care for Women International, 37(8), 922–942. https://doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2016.1167896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Strong, A., & Schwartz, D. A. (2019). Effects of the West African Ebola epidemic on health care of pregnant women—Stigmatization with and without infection. In D. A. Schwartz, J. A. Anoko, & S.A. Abramowitz (Eds.), Pregnant in the Time of Ebola: Women and their children in the 2013-2015 West African Ebola Epidemic. New York: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Firoz Lalji Centre for AfricaLondon School of EconomicsLondonUK

Personalised recommendations