Invitation to Contribute to An Anthology on Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone

It cannot be overstated that this proposed anthology on the epidemic is vitally important. Even though Ebola has surfaced periodically in Eastern and Central regions of Africa since the 1970s, this is the first outbreak of the disease in the Western region of the continent.  It is also the largest, most widespread, longest, and deadliest outbreak of the virus/disease so far. While it may not be the most lethal disease in terms of its mortality rate, it is arguably the deadliest global epidemic of the twenty-first century.

Given the unprecedented nature of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, we suspect that it will be the subject of numerous volumes and monographs.  Much has already been written on the virology and etiology of Ebola by medical and physical scientists, but there is still much to be done in the social sciences on its social, economic, cultural, and political implications. The ebola drama cannot just be understood as a medical/public health issue. Ebola is preeminently about governance and human agency.

The transformation of Ebola from a localized disease outbreak to a regional epidemic in West Africa raises serious questions for scientist scholars: Why did the three governments in the most-affected countries and international agencies (which had been instrumental and relatively successful in curtailing previous outbreaks) fail to contain the initial outbreak in late 2013 and early 2014?  Why were public health system, facilities, and practitioners in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia unable to respond effectively to the spread of the outbreak? To what extent is this inability due to the nature of the government, economies, and social dynamics in the region? How did the prolonged crisis and civil conflicts in the 1990s and 2000s, and the external economic pressures from the international financial institutions, affect the ability of these states, societies, and public health institutions to deal with the resulting epidemic? How did the international responses to the epidemic, especially in 2014, affect the ability of the three states to curtail the outbreak?   Equally important questions revolve around the precise origins of the virus and outbreak; initial local responses; public knowledge, attitudes, responses, and medical and healing practices surrounding Ebola virus/disease; trans-regional, national, and local patterns of spread of the virus across and within the three countries as well as other countries; and the various national, local, and social impacts of the outbreak (especially on women, children, and particular communities etc).

The anthology will try to engage some of these broad questions, and others that contributors may have in mind or generate in the course of their research and writing.  We  hope that contributors can draw from the widest possible range of source materials and utilize different disciplinary/interdisciplinary approaches. We envisage, however, that all the papers will be ultimately grounded in a political economy approach which considers the interplay between disease, economics, politics, and culture.


B.  Way Forward


So far, we have a verbal agreement from Firoz Manji of Pambuzaka Press, to publish the volume relatively quickly once we get it done.  We will also continue to explore other potential options.


C.  Timeline and Things to do.

We are hoping that we can have an approximately three-four months timeline on getting abstracts, editor and peer-reviewing, final editing, and proofing.   It is a very short and compressed time-frame, and we know that it may not be possible for everyone who had initially committed to make it.  So, first let us know whether you are still committed to the volume.   So, here is what the timeline looks like so far:

1. Abstract\Description of Chapter (February 20, 2015)

Send us a brief abstract (100-200 words) with a title and a gist of your [planned] contribution to the volume by Friday, February 20, 2015 latest.   If we do not hear from you by then we will assume that you are not in.   We will endeavor to respond to all those who send in abstracts within a week.

2. First Draft and Peer-Review  (April 3, 2015)

We hope that by Friday April 3, 2015 that committed contributors will send in their first drafts of approximately 5-6,000 words. As editors, we will do a first pass on the papers. Depending on the state of the manuscript we will send our initial feedback to request further revision or send it off to peer-reviewers. Once we have the abstracts, we can start the process of lining up of peer-reviews.  We will aim for a quick turn around to ensure that contributors get comments by the end of April 2015.

3.     Final Draft (Friday May 15, 2015)

We hope that by Friday May 15, 2015 contributors can be able to send in their final drafts.  We expect to use the end of May and start of June to put the final volume together to send off to the publishers.



Ibrahim Abdullah,

Fourah Bay College,

University of Sierra Leone (




Ismail Rashid,

Vassar College, (

Research in Sierra Leone Studies (RISLS): Weave:ISSN: 2167-9835