James Fairhead

James Fairhead
University of Sussex · Department of Anthropology

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87
Publications
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Publications

Publications (87)
Article
Full-text available
The SURFACES project is integrating action on good health and wellbeing [Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3] and conservation of life on land (SDG 15) in the threatened rainforests of Papua New Guinea (PNG), and mapping evidence of similar projects worldwide. Our approach is framed by Planetary Health, aiming to safeguard both human health and th...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Our project follows community requests for health service incorporation into conservation collaborations in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea (PNG). This protocol is for health needs assessments, our first step in coplanning medical provision in communities with no existing health data. Methods and analysis The study includes clinic...
Article
Forests bear the historical legacies of human activities over thousands of years, including agriculture, trade, disease and resource extraction. Many of these activities may represent indices of the proposed geological epoch of the Anthropocene. Modifications to soil, topography and vegetation evidence anthropogenic influences. Yet studies of veget...
Chapter
This postscript reflects on the social dimensions of the high mortality epidemics documented in this volume in relation to the recent West African Ebola epidemic of 2013–2016. The aim is to discern inspiration and hypotheses for further comparative analysis. It argues that global and national health organizations have neglected the value of histori...
Chapter
This chapter considers how epochal events such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that are the antithesis of sustainability nevertheless attract narrative explanations that render them predictable and systemically avoidable. Euro-American narratives emerged suggesting that the so-called spillover of Ebola then presumed to be from a cryptic host i...
Poster
Full-text available
Background New Guinea has the third largest tropical rainforest on Earth. However, one quarter of the forests of Papua New Guinea (PNG, New Guinea’s eastern half) have been cleared or degraded, nearly half through commercial logging. Sustainable development requires supporting good health (Sustainable Development Goal [SDG] 3) and protecting life o...
Article
This Bulletin attempts to link two sets of pressing contemporary concerns. On the one hand, it addresses changing relationships between science, policy and society in the context of internationalisation and public challenges to formal expertise; concerns currently under hot debate in European settings as much as in developing countries. On the othe...
Article
Why did Ebola response initiatives in the Upper Guinea Forest Region regularly encounter resistance, occasionally violent? Extending existing explanations concerning local and humanitarian “culture” and “structural violence,” and drawing on previous anthropological fieldwork and historical and documentary research, this article argues that Ebola di...
Article
Full-text available
Sierra Leone and Guinea share broadly similar cultural worlds, straddling the societies of the Upper Guinea Coast with Islamic West Africa. There was, however, a notable difference in their reactions to the Ebola epidemic. As the epidemic spread in Guinea, acts of violent or everyday resistance to outbreak control measures repeatedly followed, unde...
Article
In 1830 an American trader, Benjamin Morrell, abducted Dako, the son of a prominent leader from Uneapa Island in the Bismarck Sea, took him to New York and, four years later, returned him to Uneapa. Dako's encounter with America and his return provides insight into the region half a century before colonization, and in particular into local mytho-pr...
Article
Full-text available
We describe for the first time a current indigenous soil management system in West Africa, in which targeted waste deposition transforms highly weathered, nutrient- and carbon-poor tropical soils into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils, hereafter “African Dark Earths” (AfDE). In comparisons between AfDE and adjacent soils (AS), AfDE store...
Article
The termites and mud-dauber wasps of West Africa build earthen structures in which their eggs and larvae develop. This paper examines how these insect earths are understood and used in West Africa, focusing on their direct consumption (geophagy) and medicinal qualities. Existing research reveals these earths to be enriched in minerals otherwise lac...
Article
Drawing on the recent identification of anthropogenic dark earths (ADEs) in West Africa's Upper Guinea forest region, this article engages with Amazonian debates concerning whether such enriched soils were produced intentionally or not. We present a case study of a Loma settlement in Northwest Liberia in which ethnography, oral history, and landsca...
Article
Full-text available
Policies addressing climate change are driving major transformations in access to global land, forests and water as they create new ‘green’ markets that reinforce, and attracts the financial grid and its speculators. This leads us to examine the rise of state violence and subsequent environmental policies in forests, transferring into both ‘fortres...
Article
Full-text available
This paper describes West African farming practices and knowledge that lead to the formation of carbon-rich high-fertility African Dark Earths (AfDE) – human-made soils analogous to Amazonian terra preta, yet subject to continuing production and use. Gender relations and women’s roles are central to how these soils are produced and used. Through so...
Article
This book explores how parents understand and engage with childhood vaccination in contrasting global contexts. This rapidly advancing and universal technology has sparked dramatic controversy, whether over MMR in the UK or oral polio vaccines in Nigeria. Combining a fresh anthropological perspective with detailed field research, the book examines...
Article
Full-text available
Across the world, ‘green grabbing’ – the appropriation of land and resources for environmental ends – is an emerging process of deep and growing significance. The vigorous debate on ‘land grabbing’ already highlights instances where ‘green’ credentials are called upon to justify appropriations of land for food or fuel – as where large tracts of lan...
Article
Full-text available
Biochar currently attracts technological and market optimism, promising multiple wins – for climate change, food security, bioenergy and health – not least for African farmers. This paper examines the political-economic and discursive processes constructing biochar as a novel green commodity, creating new alliances amongst scientists, businesses, v...
Article
Biochar' is currently the focus of extraordinary levels of both technological optimism and debate. As a substance, biochar refers quite simply to the carbon-rich product that results when biomass – from wood or leaves to manure or crop residues – is burned under oxygen-deprived conditions. But around the idea of biochar and the processes of generat...
Article
In 1999, UNHCR established a refugee camp in the small Guinean town of Kouankan, principally for Manding who were then facing discrimination and worse in Liberia. Yet between 1999 and 2003 the Liberian rebel movement, LURD, developed this camp as a rear base in their successful push to Monrovia. This paper outlines the history of Kouankan and how i...
Article
Focusing on a particular field-soil-vegetation complex (tombondu), this article considers how changing patterns of gendered resource use impact on its prevalence within overall land use patterns, and hence on the environment. Ruined settlements, offering improved land productivity on "ripened' soils, provide Kuranko farmers in Guinea with a potent...
Article
An erroneous analysis of environmental change has informed environmental policy in part of Guinea for a century. Using this case study, the relationship between the production of information about environmental problems and external institutions which address them, is examined. To see how certain analyses of change have gained credence and validity...
Article
Social aspects of African farming require renewed attention, as recent international initiatives in agricultural development have moved upstream towards issues of governance and programme and policy support. Social and cultural relations significantly shape agricultural production and investment, the technologies employed therein, and the operation...
Article
This Bulletin attempts to link two sets of pressing contemporary concerns. On the one hand, it addresses changing relationships between science, policy and society in the context of internationalisation and public challenges to formal expertise; concerns currently under hot debate in European settings as much as in developing countries. On the othe...
Chapter
Full-text available
During the last 20 years, research on Amazonian soils has been central to a complete reappraisal of the region's social and natural history. Patches of dark and highly fertile soils have been found to occur throughout Amazonia, known as Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE) and sometimes distinguished as terra preta (Black Earths) and terra mulata (Brown Ear...
Article
In considering African health care practice, it is usual to draw strong distinctions between biomedical and traditional practices, and between public and private health institutions. Whilst distinctions between traditional and biomedical, and between public and private medicine make sense from the vantage point of health professionals, we question...
Article
Full-text available
Improving childhood vaccination coverage is a key health policy objective in Africa, and as availability increases, it will depend on addressing issues of demand and timely schedule completion. This paper explores vaccination demand in urban and rural areas of The Gambia as shaped by prevailing local vaccination cultures (comprising maternal knowle...
Article
(1) To explore the social and cultural influences, and health beliefs associated with low uptake of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella vaccine). (2) To describe and explore the prevalence of health beliefs associated with non-compliance with MMR, with a view to improving the personal relevance and impact of information for parents, in the context of p...
Article
This paper considers how internationally supported medical research is understood and interpreted by its actual and potential study subjects, exposing the limits to bioethical discourses amidst economic inequalities and contrasting socio-cultural worlds. It focuses on the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratories in The Gambia and particularly th...
Article
This paper considers how parents engage with a large, internationally supported childhood pneumococcal vaccine trial in The Gambia. Current analysis and professional reflection on public engagement is strongly shaped by the imperatives of public health and research institutions, and is thus couched in terms of acceptance and refusal, and 'informed...
Article
In the context of the high-profile controversy that has unfolded in the UK around the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and its possible adverse effects, this paper explores how parents in Brighton, southern England, are thinking about MMR for their own children. Research focusing on parents' engagement with MMR has been dominated by analysi...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores local knowledge and practices in soil management and investment that have frequently gone unrecognised in assessments of soil fertility transformations and trends. Case material drawn largely from the Guinea savannas of West Africa is used to challenge the assumptions and methods that agronomists have been using to assess soil f...
Article
In the 1860s, as America waged civil war, several thousand African Americans sought greater freedom by emigrating to the fledgling nation of Liberia. While some argued that the new black republic represented disposal rather than emancipation, a few intrepid men set out to explore their African home. African-American Exploration in West Africa colle...
Article
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Biodiversity has become a central organizing concept both in international environmental debate and among government departments, donors and non-governmental organizations in the Republic of Guinea. This article explores how international imperatives around biodiversity are articulating with existing and historically-shaped practices of science and...
Article
This study reviews how West African deforestation is represented and the evidence which informs deforestation orthodoxy. On a country by country basis (covering Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin), and using historical and social anthropological evidence the authors evaluate this orthodox critically. Reframing Deforestation...
Article
This article considers how environmental problematics are produced and interpreted, using case material from West Africa’s humid forest zone. Examing the experiences of several countries over the long term, it is possible to identify a deforestation discourse produced through national and international institutions. This represents forest and socia...
Article
"Indigenous knowledge (IK)" and "citizen science" represent parallel discourses which have emerged respectively in "southern" and "northern" settings. This paper explores commonalities and differences in how these traditions of work have represented knowledge systems and the engagement of 'other' perspectives with modern science. At the extreme, IK...
Article
Co-management approaches in forestry have frequently failed to fulfil their promise and have generated unexpected conflicts. This is partly because they intersect with a plurality of interests and concerns, in settings that are more socially, institutionally and ecologically differentiated and dynamic than is often assumed. This article engages wit...
Article
Concern about desiccation – the effects of deforestation on climate and soils – was an early and pervasive theme in colonial science, present at the onset of West Africa's colonial era and with roots in previous centuries. As a set of scientists' ideas linked to soil and forest conservation policy, the impact of desiccationism was initially mut...
Article
Many influential analyses of West Africa take it for granted that 'original' forest cover has progressively been converted and savannized during the twentieth century by growing populations. By testing these assumptions against historical evidence, exemplified for Ghana and Ivory Coast, this article shows that these neo-Malthusian deforestation nar...
Article
West African landscapes are generally considered as degraded, especially on the forest edge. This unique study shows how wrong that view can be, by revealing how inhabitants have enriched their land when scientists believe they have degraded it. Historical and anthropological methods demonstrate how intelligent African farmers' own land management...
Book
Full-text available
While the diffusion of modernity and the spread of development schemes may bring prosperity, optimism and opportunity for some, for others it has brought poverty and a deterioration in quality of life. This book demostrates the crucial importance of looking to ethnography for guidance in shaping development policies. Etnography can show how people'...
Article
This article suggests that the extent of deforestation that has occurred in West Africa during the twentieth century is currently being exaggerated. It presents key findings of detailed research into vegetation change over the past century in Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Togo and Benin.
Article
West African landscapes are generally considered as degraded, especially on the forest edge. This unique study shows how wrong that view can be, by revealing how inhabitants have enriched their land when scientists believe they have degraded it. Historical and anthropological methods demonstrate how intelligent African farmers' own land management...
Article
Full-text available
Central African highland farmers' perceptions of common bean disease were investigated using both phytopathology and anthropological techniques. Farmers rarely mentioned diseases as production constraints in formal questionnaires. More participatory research showed farmers often related disease symptoms to the effects of rain and soil depletion for...
Article
The mosaic of forest and savanna vegetation found along the northern margin of West Africa's moist forest zone has generally been understood in policy circles as a degraded and degrading forest landscape, following savannisation by its farming populations. Some ecologists have suggested that the vegetation mosaic may, however, be more stable, deter...
Article
Social science analysis has helped to explain the rapid and recent deforestation supposed to have occurred in Guinea, West Africa. A narrative concerning population growth and the breakdown of past authority and community organization which once maintained “original” forest vegetation guides policy. In two cases, vegetation history sharply contradi...
Article
Full-text available
Sophisticated local agricultural and forest management techniques have underlain the creation and maintenance of the main landscape features in Kissidougou Prefecture of Guinea's forest-savanna transition zone. Social anthropological, oral historical, archival and aerial photographic evidence shows how over long periods, peri-village forest islands...
Article
Full-text available
Farmers’ management of bean diseases in the Great Lakes region of Africa was investigated from both phytopathological and anthropological perspectives. Local crop protection strategies were based on microclimate regulation, genetic diversity and sanitation. Microclimate management involved selectively integrating numerous agronomic practices depend...
Article
We examine such familiarity among the Kissi and Kouranko inhabitants of Kissidougou Prefecture in Guinea, and the ways that their tree management is integrated with agricultural production, environmental management and the furnishing of everyday needs such as for food, fuel, equipment, building and medicines. In the light of local plant management...
Article
Markets for land, labour and goods in rural Zaire are embedded in autocratic and often corrupt local power domains which have been strengthened by economic crisis and concomitant structural adjustment policies. To talk of "the market' in this context is as meaningless as to talk of "the state'. The following article focuses on efforts to facilitate...
Article
The 1984 drought affected vast areas of East, Southern and Central Africa, including Zaire's Kivu Province. Within North Kivu, areas of the collectivité Bwisha, of the zone of Rutshuru, were known to have been particularly hard hit. Within this collectivite , two administrative units (groupements) were singled out for famine relief: Jomba and Gisig...
Article
Société, Culture et Histoire du Rwanda: encyclopédie bibliographique 1863–1980/87. By D'HertefeltMarcel and de LameDanielle. Tervuren: Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika (Musée Royal de l'Afrique centrale), 1987. Pp. xxx + 1849. 2850 FB + postage. - Volume 30 Issue 3 - James Fairhead
Article
In international policy, Trinidad has acquired a reputation for sustainable natural forest management. Definitions, criteria and indicators of sustainability are premised on ecological and social predictability; that forests and people will respond to rational management in rational, predictable and known ways. These premises are incorporated withi...
Article
The landscape of Kissidougou prefecture in the Republic of Guinea is striking. Patches of dense, verdant, semi−deciduous rain forest tower over open expanses of grassy savanna. These islands of forest, in a sea of savanna, are generally round, a kilometre or two in diameter, and conceal villages at their centre. Apart from these islands, dense fore...
Article
Across the globe, childhood vaccination is widely regarded to epitomise the effective (and cost-effective) application of science and technology to current public health problems. It is central to future hopes in tackling diseases both of poverty and of excess. The production and delivery of new vaccines, combinations and applications has become a...
Article
Since the 1960s there have been various moves to create a system of national parks in Trinidad, including several well-funded initiatives involving international support from the FAO, OAS and most recently a World Bank supported project. Despite many plans, legislation and implementation is blocked. Reasons are to be found in (a) the production of...

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Project (1)
Project
Surfaces is integrating public health & biodiversity conservation in threatened rainforests in Papua New Guinea (focusing first on neglected tropical skin diseases), and mapping evidence of similar projects worldwide. PI: Alan Stewart. http://www.sussex.ac.uk/ssrp/research/health-and-environment/enhancing-health-in-vulnerable-rainforest-setting