Motile outbreaks: Situating Ebola resurgences in human motilities in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 2023-26

Two men crossing a river in a boat
Fieldwork journey in Likati, Northern DRC, 2023   ©Kennedy Muhindo Wema

The main objective of our collaborative research project is to explore the resurgence of Ebola outbreaks in 2021 in Guinea in 2021 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These resurgences are exceptional events within the exceptional history of deadly infectious disease outbreaks. They are linked to the largest Ebola epidemics in history, namely the West Africa Ebola outbreak from 2014 and 2016 and the tenth Ebola outbreak in the Eastern DRC from 2018-2020. The discovery that these unprecedented outbreaks can resurge months and years after they had been declared over is considered to mark a new paradigm in Ebola research, which amongst many other things has been grappling with the question how to track the mobility of viruses bound up with human and nonhuman actors.

Our focus is to pioneer innovative methods to analyze human mobility's impact on disease transmission. Employing the "motility approach", we study not only the patterns of human movement but also the socio-cultural implications of daily transport systems, such as walking or using taxis. This will offer insights how viruses travel on socially and historically defined routes of transmission . Additionally, we will probe the connection between human movement and expansive support networks. Our overarching objective is to provide robust insights to shape research methodologies and response strategies for potential future epidemics. Moreover, our research project wants to foster transdisciplinary research on the ecologies of Ebola resurgences and produce evidence relevant to the managing of future epidemics. 

This project is a collaboration between BNITM (SJ Park), ENS Lyon, IRD (F. LeMarcis), Pole Institute (N. Morisho), and CERFIG (A. Somparé et E. Somparé). Our project is funded by the German Research Foundation and the French National Research Agency.

Research Group Medical Anthropology

Portrait of a male person of color with glasses and dark hair pulled back, wearing a blue shirt.
AG Medical Anthropology

Dr. Sung-Joon (Song) Park

Telefon: +49 40 285380-711


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