E. Knoll is part of an international team of scholars under the directorship of Professor Gwyn Campbell of McGill University. That team has been awarded a partnership grant funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) entitled Appraising Risk, Past and Present: Interrogating Historical Data to Enhance Understanding of Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World (https://www.appraisingrisk.com).

The team investigates six periods of historical and contemporary environmental (e.g. climate change, volcanism, monsoons, cyclones, drought) and human (e.g. famine, disease, conflict, migration) crisis, in order to elucidate past-to-present patterns that will help inform current and future risk preparedness and responses to environmental crises and disaster.

As a member of Research Team 5 ‘Health and Disease’ under Team Lead and Africa specialist Issac Luginaah (University Western Ontario) E. Knoll studies the entanglements and interdependencies of human and environmental crisis in selected islands and shoreline countries of central and eastern parts of the Indian Ocean.

Research questions pursued will include: What environmental events underpinned epidemics and endemic disease? What were the origin, duration, and immediate physical impact of epidemics and endemic disease? What were the long-term environmental, socio-economic and political impacts? To what degree were such impacts felt on a cross-regional scale?  How did humans perceive disease and epidemic outbreaks and how did they respond?

Team 5 focusses on the contemporary period (2001-17) out of the partnership’s six investigative periods spanning from 535 to 2017. Methodologically Team 5 draws on ethnographic fieldwork and literature studies accompanied by targeted archival studies into earlier periods of disease history.

This research project results from and it will be carried out within the 19 May, 2017 MoU between the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, CA and the Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Eva-Maria Knoll

01.04.2018 – 31.03.2025