CFP: Techniques and Technologies of Global Maternal and Reproductive Health in Africa

Ellen Foley's picture

The contemporary arena of global health is awash in innovative medical gadgets, apps and protocols. Such technologies are filling the new mandate for simple, high-impact, and low-cost solutions that can be scaled up without the apparent need for infrastructure. Anthropologists concerned with global health are following the social lives of these technologies and what happens when they are proposed and applied as interventions to tackle global health issues.


We are inviting contributions for an edited volume that will focus on and interrogate the “innovative turn” in global health (Scott-Smith 2013) specifically with regard to techniques and technologies deployed in the realm of global maternal and reproductive health in Africa.  From the very definition of health technology, to the new assemblages of public and private actors collaborating on the development, field testing, and distribution of novel inventions, to the national and global level policies that prioritize them, to their circulation, reception and use at various scales, our volume will examine how the turn to technological innovation simultaneously reflects and constitutes the contemporary moment in global health.  Situated at the intersection of medical anthropology, feminist studies of technology, critical global health studies, and humanitarian design, this volume seeks to engage in wider conversations in global health using technology and reproduction as entry points.


We seek chapters that focus on techniques and technologies in the management of maternity, (prenatal care, labour, delivery and the postpartum) as well as contraception, safe abortion, post abortion care, cervical screening and gynaecological surgeries.  We are equally interested in chapters that focus on biomedical devices for diagnostics, monitoring, and treatment, mHealth platforms, the marketing, circulation and use of pharmaceuticals, clinical protocols, demographic and epidemiological modelling tools, or data collection tools.


The turn towards innovation in global health poses many questions that authors might take up, including: How does a narrow technological approach in global maternal health sit in tension with the need to build health infrastructures?  How are the techniques and technologies of global maternal health imagining and engendering new subjectivities amongst their intended recipients?  How fitting are such notions as empowerment and rights to describe access to medical technologies at the community level?  How do the metrics stack up? How can ethnographic research on technologies capture consequences not imagined or tracked by clinical studies or development reports?  What of the role of users and co-designers who domesticate technologies and take them ‘off script’ in meaning and use?


For further information, please contact Maggie MacDonald ( or Ellen Foley ( The deadline for abstracts of 250-300 words is Nov 1, 2018 with an eye to submission of complete chapters by July 2019.