International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Experiences of an Ethnographer in Two Ghanaian Hospitals
Jonathan Mensah Dapaah

In Ghana and many sub-Saharan African countries, ethnographies of medical setting are relatively uncommon. This might be due to the general view that to study the area of biomedicine by investigating hospital, health centre or clinic is a new territory for medical anthropologists. Besides, perhaps, anthropologists rarely made biomedicine itself a subject for analyses and accepted that it is supposedly grounded in science; it is not a subject of anthropological or sociological inquiry. Therefore, anthropologists over the years devoted much of their time into studying rituals and beliefs of exotic cultures, indigenous therapists, lay perceptions of health and illness. However, there is a growing interest in recent years in studying biomedicine as a cultural or social system. In this regard, this article seeks to illustrate the rigorous processes/procedures social scientists need to go through to enter the hospital and the peculiar strategies they have to adopt in order to collect data in the hospital setting. Further, it tries to show how actors in the facility (which includes biomedical professionals, patients and their relatives) generally perceive social scientists who conduct social science research and particularly ethnography in the hospital setting. The article thus sheds light on the experiences of an ethnographer in the hospital and how he continuously negotiated his presence to collect data in a setting which is often considered the domain of biomedical professionals. The article concludes that the anthropological method is not common in the hospital setting and therefore the need for more hospital ethnography to make it popular among health workers and also demonstrate its important contribution to quality health care delivery.

Full Text: PDF