Ciribassi, Rebekah: Travel Grant - 2017-2018

College of Arts and Sciences
Project Title: 
Drawing Bloodlines through Sukumaland: Sickle cell disease diagnosis and the politics of belonging in northwest Tanzania
Project Abstract: 
Sickle cell disease is a genetically-inherited condition that causes misshapen red blood cells. In 20th century America and across colonial Africa, sickle cell disease was used as scientific evidence of biological race. Now, in the 21st century, new global health prioritization of genetic medicine in Africa has brought a resurgence of attention to sickled cells. In Tanzania, the fourth-most affected country with the disease, a new technology for diagnosing the gene has emerged in 2017. In the Lake Victoria region, increasing rates of diagnosis emphasize the need for attention to the integration of genetic diagnosis into everyday life. This research will explore the ways that sickle cell science is co-constituted with social ideologies of belonging, especially kinship. Further, it will question whether the remnants of colonial medicine—including its racialized attachments—are recapitulated in contemporary sickle cell diagnosis and care. This project will explore these issues through ethnographic and archival methods in and around Mwanza, in northwest Tanzania.