‘Atomic Bombs’ in Monrovia, Liberia

The Identity and Stigmatisation of Ebola Survivors

in Anthropology in Action

Survivors of the Ebola virus have been widely profiled as the success stories of the outbreak, yet they still face challenges relating to their identity and reintegration. A survivor’s body takes on new meanings aft er experiencing Ebola, and the label ‘survivor’ is as problematic as it is celebratory. Using data conducted during fieldwork in Monrovia, Liberia, this article discusses the complex identities of Ebola survivors. In Monrovia, most of the stigma and discrimination relating to survivors was directed towards men, who were considered ‘atomic bombs’ because of concerns that they could transmit Ebola through sexual intercourse. Health promotion messages around sexual transmission were often misunderstood, and communities requested the quarantine of men to reduce what they felt was a threat to the wider community. Understanding the meanings and sources of such stigmatisation is necessary to be able to work with and support survivors through psychosocial care and health promotion activities.

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Anthropology in Action

Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice

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