Bettina Shell-Duncan

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Bettina Shell-Duncan

"Research Interests: 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.

"In the 1990s I joined a field project in Marsabit District in northern Kenya, entitled the Rendille Sedentarization Project (RSP). My own contribution to this project involves investigating the effect of settlement and development of former nomadic pastoralists on maternal and child health. My most recent work in this project focuses on the biocultural context of mirconutrient defienciecies, particularly iron and vitamin A. I am particularly interested in insights offered by evolutionary approaches to the study of the epidemiology of mirconutrient nutrition.

My other major thread of research focuses on the topic of female genital cutting (FGC). I have investigated the cultural context and health consequences of FGC among Rendille women in Kenya, as well as debates over medicalization. Additionally, I am interested in the politics of the international campaign to end FGC, and the implications of adopting health and human rights frameworks. My current research focuses on the theoretical and empirical dynamics of behavior change in Senegal and The Gambia. I have been a consultant for WHO and UNICEF, allowing me to explore connections between local and global campaigns to end the practice.”" [1]

Select Publications

  • From Health to Human Rights: Female Genital Cutting and the Politics of Intervention. American Anthropologist 110(2), 2008.
  • Bettina Shell-Duncan and Ylva Hernlund, editors. Female "Circumcision" in Africa: Culture, Change, and Controversy (Boulder, CO: Lynn Rienner, 2000).
  • Ylva Hernlund and Bettina Shell-Duncan, editors. Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context (Rutgers University Press, 2007).

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Bettina Shell-Duncan, University of Washington, accessed July 20, 2009.