Anthropologist

Anthropologist

Pierre Tribovic, an MSF anthropologist in Monrovia, Liberia Caption
Pierre Tribovic, an MSF anthropologist in Monrovia, Liberia

 The role of a Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) anthropologist is diverse.

The focus of the anthropologist's role is to design, manage and ensure the quality of often complex and multi-pronged investigations into health and social issues in the sites where MSF is working.

Activities

Depending on the nature of the programme and context, their activities might include: 

  • Working with community members to understand pathways and barriers to accessing healthcare 
  • Developing  deep understandings of peoples’ perceptions of complex or sensitive health topics, such as adolescent sex, addictions, mental trauma or death and dying
  • Leading field research studies 
  • Training and managing research teams 
  • Working in tandem with epidemiologists to map disease transmission and contact tracing 
  • Doing emergency assessments and planning project strategies 
  • Monitoring and evaluating existing projects 
  • Helping to develop locally-appropriate best practice guidelines and protocols 
  • Sensitising MSF teams to how they are perceived in the community

Responsibilities

The postholder’s main responsibility is to design, manage and ensure the quality of often complex and multi-pronged investigations into health and social issues in the sites where MSF is working.

This most often entails qualitative engagement with local people to better understand their constraints, priorities and agency, but may also include engagement with government ministries, academics and others, as well as audit or evaluation of MSF’s own work.

Duties include:

  • Developing study tools to address specific questions or topics of interest to the MSF teams
  • Doing literature reviews for topics of interest
  • Recruiting, training and managing study teams
  • Network building in the local community and country to leverage knowledge and expertise
  • Leading data gathering exercises
  • Leading data analysis and developing findings
  • Drafting reports or other forms of output to communicate findings
  • Presenting findings to MSF teams at field and headquarters
Anthropologist and health promoter, Dale Koninckx and Nursing Team Supervisor, Kotho Gawe Pelé in the Central African Republic.

In their own words

Get eye-witness accounts from MSF anthropologists on our blogs site.

Role requirements

Essential

  • A Master’s degree or equivalent higher qualification in anthropology, sociology or allied social science disciplines.
  • At least six weeks’ independent field research in a subject and setting appropriate to MSF’s work (e.g. on global health issues, poverty, crime, exclusion)
  • Experience designing and carrying out complex research projects (literature review; study design and protocol development; ethics approval; data gathering and assessment; publication and dissemination)
  • Experience training and supervising a multi-cultural research team
  • Exposure to/ experience of working in fields of interest to MSF (armed conflict; epidemics and infectious diseases; mental health; water and sanitation; poverty and exclusion)
  • Minimum of three months’ work, volunteering or travelling experience in low resource settings
  • Experience of working in a fast-paced, multi-cultural workspace
  • Ability to cope in austere, violent or traumatising environments
  • Ability to function autonomously, often being the sole guardian of a given topic or investigation
  • Available for a minimum of six to nine months 
  • Fluency in English and a second language (eg: French, Arabic, Spanish, Russian)
  • IT skills (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)

Highly desirable

  • Prior NGO experience

Application guide

Read our guide on the application process for all overseas roles

Before you apply

Make sure you read our application process guide for an overview of what to expect when you apply for an overseas role with the UK.

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Apply to be an anthropologist

1/7

I have read and understood the role description, and feel I can fulfil this role

2/7

The UK is my place of residence and I have the right to live and work in the UK

3/7

I have a valid passport

4/7

I have spent at least three months travelling or working in low resource settings

5/7

I am available for a minimum of six to nine months

6/7

I have a Master’s degree or equivalent higher qualification in anthropology, sociology or allied social science disciplines

7/7

I have done at least six weeks’ independent field research in a subject and setting appropriate to MSF’s work (e.g global health issues, poverty, crime or exclusion)