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.
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
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.
- 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
In their own words
Get eye-witness accounts from MSF anthropologists on our blogs site.
- 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)
- Prior NGO experience
Read our guide on the application process for all overseas roles
Before you apply
Apply to be an anthropologist