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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Michaela Hubmann

Michaela Hubmann
Michaela Hubmann
African Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Anthropology of Global Health, Medical Anthropology, Health systems and global health, Health systems strengthening, Politics of health, Public health, Global Health Policy, State building, Forms of Citizenship, New forms of Manageralism, Time, temporality & chronicity, Global and Public Health Governance

PhD Title

After Ebola: An ethnographic study of the primary health care rebuilding and strengthening process in the Bo district of Sierra Leone

After Ebola: An ethnographic study of the primary health care rebuilding and strengthening process in Bo district, Sierra Leone

My research highlights how an increased audit culture as well as time bounded global health projects impact on the primary health system rebuilding and strengthening efforts in Sierra Leone after the Ebola crisis. The political economy of metrics, with its focus on the production of numbers inherently shape decision-making and accounting practices across the health system architecture: from a District Health Management Team to health-care frontline workers, Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants. Like with any other form of governance, metrics inform, if not direct, global public health policies which in turn influence public health delivery and implementation efforts on the ground. A picture of omission and erasure, where, for instance, maternal deaths are obliterated to stick to public health targets, are obscuring the national epidemiological reporting system so to help generate external funding. In addition, health aid and funding, with its bounded time frames, directly influence the governance of global and public health programmes: from the initiation to implementation, to the ending of time-limited interventions. Based on fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, this research provides a powerful bottom-up account on how the politics of metrics and temporal, often unsustainable, global health projects produce both, new life possibilities and uncertain futures which inform specific citizen projects, and how these citizen projects in turn impact upon nation-building in Sierra Leone.

Academic History

2015 – present: PhD candidate in African Studies, University of Edinburgh

2013 – 14: MSc Medical Anthropology & Sociology, University of Amsterdam

2010 – 13: BSc Social Anthropology, Brunel University

Teaching Experience


Tutor: Infectious Diseases and Global Governance (3rd-year Undergraduates)

Guest Lecture: Ebola, whose science is it? University of Edinburgh


Tutor: International Development, Aid & Humanitarianism (1st and 2nd year Undergraduate), University of Edinburgh


Guest Lecture: Introduction to Medical Anthropology, Njala University, Bo, Sierra Leone

Guest Lecture: Social factors of behavioural emergencies; COMAS & Njala University,  Bo, Sierra Leone

Conference Presentations


Paper "An ethnographic investigation of the National Emergency Service training phase in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone".  Symposium of the Sierra Leone Health & Biomedical Research Association


Paper “Socio-cultural and structural factors influencing Maternal Mortality Rates in Bo District: An Anthropological Investigation”. Symposium of the Sierra Leone Health & Biomedical Research Association


Hubmann, M. (2015). Ebola in West Africa: The ‘new era’ of global public health, scapegoating, healthcare strengthening reforms and post-Ebola survival effects. CAS from the Edge.

Awards, Grants and Scholarships

Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG) (2018)

Extended fieldwork grant, Economic and Social Research Council (2016), University of Edinburgh

Wellcome-Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (2015), University of Edinburgh

Global Development Academy Fieldwork Research Grant (2015), University of Edinburgh, UK

Award of a full PhD Scholarship from the Economic and Social Research Council (2014), UK

Award for the best Anthropology Dissertation of the year 2013, Brunel University, UK

The Sidney Perry Foundation Educational Grant (2012 & 2013), UK

Various small grants awarded by Rotary Clubs in London (2012), UK