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Benson Mulemi

LAHRI / LUCAS Virtual Fellow 2023
Areas of expertise
Medical Anthropology, maternal health, malaria control, ethnoecological perspectives
Pretoria, South Africa
Arts, Humanities and Cultures
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute / Leeds Centre For African Studies

Benson A. Mulemi is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria and an Associate Professor of Anthropology. He also serves as a visiting professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, of South Eastern Kenya University. He also serves in the Masters of Medical Anthropology Programme at Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine Gulu University; Northern Uganda as a visiting professor and supervisor.

He holds the PhD degree in Medical Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. He graduated with a Masters degree in Anthropology at the Institute of Anthropology, Gender and African Studies, University of Nairobi and held a professorship in the Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi. His previous research includes anthropology of cancer, healing and therapeutic strategies, albinism, superstition and witchcraft beliefs in East Africa (Tanzania), maternal health in Western Kenya, anthropology of malaria control in Western Kenya. He represents East Africa in the Medical and Health Humanities Africa (MHHA) Network.

Benson Mulemi was offered the 2023 LUCAS/LAHRI Virtual Visiting Research Fellowship 2023 on the theme “African ecologies”. This is carried out through research project titled: “Human ecology of trust, hope and maternal healthcare delays in Kisumu County, Western Kenya”. The research focuses on local ethnoecological perspectives on the pursuit of prenatal and perinatal care. It includes analysis of religious practices, social relationships, and ethnomedical resources used to mediate maternal and child health conditions during a time of climate change. The purpose is to explain why women fail to receive appropriate care for illnesses during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. The project examines how vagaries of climate change relate to maternal mortality, morbidity and help-seeking behaviours. The basic premise is that climate change, transformation of local environments and inequitable coverage of transport and healthcare infrastructure are reflected in local patterns of maternal health care resort in the emergent therapeutic pluralism environment. The circumstances that cause appropriate care delays, construction of hope, trust and respect in services available in the health system will be analysed. The exploration will also focus on how climate change, and in particular episodes of unseasonal droughts or heavy rains, affect perceptions, decision-making and resource-allocation around maternal health in low-income households, which are the main consumers of public maternal health services. Analysis of folklore, religious belief systems, local proverbs, artistic performance and symbolism about the ecological context of maternal health and illness from local ethnomedical discourse will contribute to grounded theory of quality maternal health and ecological justice.