Time-spaces practices of care after a family death

We’re pleased to publish our latest paper, Time-space practices of care after a family death in urban Senegal, in Social & Cultural Geography, by Sophie Bowlby, Ruth Evans, Jane Ribbens McCarthy and Joséphine Wouango.  Here is the summary (résumé français ci-dessous)

The paper contributes to studies of care practices and care ethics beyond the Minority world by analysing informal caringscapes after a family death in urban Senegal. Based on the findings of a qualitative study in the cities of Dakar and Kaolack, we explore exchanges of care by the living for the living in the period immediately following the death, and changes in these care practices over the longer term. We focus on mobilities and changing care roles in family lives over time. We demonstrate the central significance of family commitments and concern for the wellbeing of the ‘family’ in caring exchanges. We suggest that a deeply relational understanding of personhood as bound up with family and community underlies many current caring practices in urban Senegal and challenges current conceptualisations of care interdependencies.

Pratiques spatiotemporelles de care après un deuil familial dans le Sénégal urbain

Cette communication contribue à la recherche sur les pratiques du care et de ses éthiques au-delà du monde minoritaire par une analyse des espaces informels du care après un deuil familial dans le Sénégal urbain. Reposant sur les résultats d’une étude quantitative dans les villes de Dakar et de Kaolack, nous explorons les échanges de care des vivants aux vivants pendant la période immédiatement après le décès, et les changements à plus long terme dans ces pratiques de care. Nous nous concentrons sur les mobilités et les rôles évolutifs du care dans les vies familiales au fil du temps. Nous démontrons la signification centrale des responsabilités et des préoccupations familiales pour le bien-être de la « famille » dans les échanges familiaux. Nous suggérons qu’une profonde interprétation des relations de l’identité individuelle comme étant liée à la famille et à la communauté sous-tend beaucoup de pratiques contemporaines du care dans le Sénégal urbain et remet en question les conceptualisations actuelles des interdépendances du care.

Interpreting ‘grief’ and emotions in cross-cultural contexts

In our latest article in Mortality, we discuss the complex process of translating and interpreting ‘grief’ and emotions in multilingual, cross-cultural settings. Our research in urban Senegal demonstrates the importance of involving interpreters and field researchers throughout the research process. This enabled us to gain insight into the cultural nuances of indigenous languages and how these are translated and potentially re-framed in the process.

Read the full post here.

How can we produce emotionally sensed knowledge on death and bereavement?

Doing research on ‘sensitive topics’, such as death and bereavement, can raise particular challenges for qualitative and cross-cultural researchers. This is often due to the deep emotions which may be evoked among both participants and researchers, and the ways that emotions are culturally produced. Our new blogpost reflects on the methodological complexities of producing ’emotionally-sensed knowledge’ about death and bereavement in our qualitative research in urban Senegal.  It summarises the key messages from our article published in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

Researchers meeting local facilitators in Kaolack, Senegal

UK could learn lessons from Africa in dealing with death

British society is not paying enough attention to how a death may risk pushing families into poverty and could learn valuable lessons from West Africa, according to a new report. Researchers from the University of Reading and the Open University say Britain could actually learn much from the example of less affluent countries in Africa, such as Senegal. Dr. Ruth Evans’ and colleagues’ research explored people’s experiences of a family death, and analysed levels of financial, emotional and practical support offered to bereaved families in urban Senegal. The study, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, provides the first in-depth understanding of responses to death, care and family relations in an urban West African context.


A local mosque, Guédiawaye, Dakar.

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Download the Executive Summary or full Report

Télécharger le Résumé ou le Rapport (en français)