Opposing Observations and the Political-Economy of Malaria Vulnerability: A Community-Based Study in Bududa, Uganda


  • Kelly F. Austin Lehigh University




Malaria, Political-Economy, Climate Change, Privatization, Uganda


Malaria is a parasitic infection that remains a leading threat to health and development in many communities, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Bududa, Uganda, malaria represents a key threat to health and well-being. However, whether or not malaria rates are improving in the district over time represents a conundrum. By using principles of structural fieldwork and drawing on multiple data sources that include the more- and less- powerful, opposing observations emerge, where community members perceive marked increases in malaria rates over time, while official district-level data depict the opposite. World-systems analysis illuminates the reasons behind this discrepancy, along with the factors that community members use to explain the rise in malaria suffering, including environmental changes and decreased healthcare access. Overall, this research demonstrates how global economic policies and structures create unequal health impacts, placing those in Bududa at disproportionate and elevated vulnerability to malaria.

Author Biography

Kelly F. Austin, Lehigh University

Kelly F. Austin is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University. Her work specializes in examining global inequalities in health, the environment, and gender. Her work has been published in a variety of outlets, including Social Forces, Social Problems, and World Development.


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How to Cite

Austin, K. F. (2020). Opposing Observations and the Political-Economy of Malaria Vulnerability: A Community-Based Study in Bududa, Uganda. Journal of World-Systems Research, 26(1), 9–39. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2020.967



Research Articles