Bettina Shell Duncan

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Bettina Shell
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Research Summary: 
Throughout my career I have been conducting mixed method biocultural research on maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa. My earlier research focus was on nutrition, immunity and morbidity among nomadic children in Kenya, the health effects of settlement of former nomads, and evolutionary approaches to the study of micronutrient nutrition. More recently my research has focuses on the study of female genital cutting (FGC). I have examined the cultural context and health consequences of FGC among Rendille women in northern Kenya, as well as debates over medicalization of the practice. Through my work with WHO and UNICEF, I have examined the politics of the international campaign to end FGC, and the implication of adopting a health and human rights framework. I have recently been conducting mixed method research on the theoretical and empirical dimensions of the dynamics of behavior change with respect to FGC in Senegal and The Gambia. This work examines the outcome of various strategies aimed at ending FGC, such as legislation and various community-based interventions, and evaluates their correspondence with leading theories of behavior change. I am also examining the connections between local and transnational strategies to end the practice, including legislation and asylum.
Biocultural Anthropology
Medical Anthropology and Global Health
<p>Nutritional anthropology, disease ecology, evolutionary medicine, maternal and child health, female genital cutting, integrated qualitative and quantitative study of medical anthropology and global health, field studies in Kenya, Senegal and The Gambia.</p>
Selected Publications
<p>Shell-Duncan, B., Wander, K., Hernlund, Y., and Moreau, A. Dynamics of change in the practce of female genital cutting in Senegambia: Testing predictions of social convention theory. Social Science and Medicine 73: 1275-1283.</p>