A group of Independent scholars from different disciplines gathered at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut for a three-day conference from June 18 -21 to discuss how technological innovations and digital media have changed scholarly communications, publishing and how information is shared, stored and made available to the public.
The conference hosted by the National Coalition of Independent Scholars as part of its 25th Anniversary attracted academics from across the United States including Washington based Sierra Leonean medical anthropologist and activist, Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, PhD.
Dr. Fuambai focused her presentation on traditions and transitions in relation to female circumcision in particular the ways in which dominant indigenous perceptions of female circumcision, once an untouchable tradition among practicing ethnic groups in some West African countries have shifted among some first generation Americans and younger women within African immigrant communities.
“As an anthropologist and now as an activist, I feel that it is my job to impart as well as to advocate for respectively the beliefs, values and viewpoint of the large majority of women who practice and largely support female circumcision’” Dr. Ahmadu said in a statement.
She alluded that her advocacy places her “at odds with the main segments of the western women’s movement which espouse a different set of beliefs about these practices. This also triggers anger from a few affected women within practicing societies who are against female circumcision and want to see the practice banned.”
She also argued that changing perceptions among some younger generations of immigrant girls and women reflect western feminist opposition and stereotyped images portrayed in anti-Female Genital Mutilation campaigns in the wider US and global context.
Dr. Ahmadou based her argument from two discussions she held with a group of college age female participants in Sauti Yetu, a New York City based grassroots Non Governmental Organization, as well as a lengthy debate that took place within a face book group called the Sierra Leone Gender Watch.
Dr. Ahmadu received a PhD in social anthropology from the London School of Economics and completed a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) postdoctoral fellowship at the department of comparative human development, University of Chicago.
Dr. Ahmadu completed further postdoctoral training at the Child Behavior and Development Branch, National Institute of Child and Human Development (NICHD) at NIH. In The Gambia, Dr. Ahmadu worked for five years as lead consultant for UNICEF and for two years as a principal investigator at the United Kingdom’s MRC Laboratories.
Dr. Ahmadu was winner of the Wenner Gren Foundation’s distinguished Richard Carley Hunt writing fellowship and completed her first monograph in residence at the Office of the Vice President in Sierra Leone, which was then overseeing the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS).
Dr. Ahmadu has published in leading scientific and academic journals, including The Hastings Center Report, Anthropology Today and in two edited volumes. Dr. Ahmadu has been a public health adviser to the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone for the past four years and continues to lecture and write extensively on her research area.
Her invited public lectures include Georgetown University, Emory University, George Washington University, University of Regina (Canada), SUNY Medical School and private liberal arts institutions such as Skidmore College and Connecticut College.
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