Bettina Shell Duncan


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Denny Hall, M230


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. 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 have recently become involved in an international research consortium, funded for 5 years by the U.K.'s Department of International Development, that will investigate factors influencing decision-making regarding FGC and intervention strategies in 6 African countries.


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