EPICENTER Research Project

Contagious Class

  • An Ethnographic Exploration of Lifestyle Aspirations and
  • Non Communicable Diseases Among Urban Poor in Northern Uganda

Contagious Class - An Ethnographic Exploration of Lifestyle Aspirations and Non Communicable Diseases Among Urban Poor in Northern Uganda

Non communicable diseases like diabetes and are on the rise in Uganda, also among people in Northern Uganda, who were originally known to be a healthy population. There are no reliable data on the prevalence of diabetes, but medical authorities have estimated that 2 million people are living with diabetes in Uganda. Medical authorities speculate in the causes and are overall linking the rise of diabetes and other NCD’s to aspects of modern life.  People are changing lifestyle which exposes them to e.g. diabetes, but also other causes like greater longevity, malnutrition, over-nutrition, hypertension, malaria, HIV/AIDS and the drugs used to treat it, have been mentioned. In the European context, lifestyle has equally been proclaimed as one of the drivers of the Diabetes epidemic and wrong lifestyle choices are seen as something negative and ill-health inducing both among health authorities and laymen. “To have a lifestyle” in Uganda, is on the contrary connoted to something very positive – linked to conspicuous consumption and choosing a modern life not only for urban working class Ugandans.

This study will explore lifestyle aspirations and perception of health among urban poor in Northern Uganda. It takes its vantage point from exploring emic knowledge and interpretations of ‘lifestyle’ in an attempt to understand social and cultural factors that influence the contagiousness and the epidemic potential of diabetes in the Ugandan context. 

Contact Researcher

Birgitte Folmann

Ma et PhD

Post doc

etnbf@hum.au.dk