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Santiago Ripoll

Research Fellow

I am a social anthropologist with skills and experience in social science analysis, participatory and anthropological methods, in the fields of public health emergencies and food systems.

My academic research focuses on social context, experience and ethics. I focus on the clashes (or alignments) that occur between framings by different social actors (including policymakers) and the realities of people’s everyday lives, highlighting them either through participatory or ethnographic research. I have specialised in ‘translating’ different forms of social science evidence (especially that which emerges from anthropological insights) to different audiences to make it more applicable and operational. This includes:

a. Making social science operational for public health emergencies: Facilitating knowledge exchange between anthropologists and social scientists, and public health and humanitarian practitioners for the Social Science in Humanitarian Action platform (SSHAP). www.socialscienceinaction.org.

b. Promoting interdisciplinary exchanges in the field of ethics (between cognitive and behavioural anthropology, moral philosophy, and anthropology) as co-Director of the ‘Social Science and Ethics Research Group’ (SSERG) https://www.sussex.ac.uk/research/centres/social-science-ethics/

c. Appraising and promoting the benefits of allotment gardening: Promoting transdisciplinary dialogues between academics, public bodies, civil society groups and allotment holders to enhance the health, environmental, and food security benefits of allotments in an inclusive way, as co-founder of the ‘Good Allotment Project’

d. Incorporating ethnographic and participatory approaches into food system analysis: Together with IDS colleagues such as Elise Wach, we focus on the importance of participatory action research and in-depth qualitative research to bring the voices of people who are often sidelined into decision-making processes in food and agriculture.

For this purpose, I manage research and develop networks for research platforms that facilitate this dialogue between different types of knowledge. I have developed expertise in curating inter and transdisciplinary debates around policy issues in health, food security and nutrition in ways that people’s everyday experiences and perspectives are incorporated into policy processes.

Get in touch if you are interested in developing research in the following:

  • Adapting public health activities to local context: political economy, vulnerabilities, cultural logics and community engagement
  • Contributions of anthropology to community engagement in public health emergencies
  • Interdisciplinary approaches to understanding health-seeking practices
  • ‘Behavioural change’ in food systems (transitions towards agroecological practices, dietary changes)
  • Health inequalities, structural inequalities and urban anthropology
  • Multidimensional benefits of allotments and homegardens (food production, physical and mental health, biodiversity and other environmental outcomes)
  • Empirical ethics: approaches that explore how people’s own ethics shape their practices/behaviours in health or nutrition, for example, moral economy

I am happy to supervise PhD and MA students in the following themes:

  • Agroecology and food sovereignty
  • Climate change and food systems
  • Social and cultural aspects of epidemics and epidemic response
  • Social and cultural aspects of vaccination programmes and vaccine hesitancy
  • Behavioural change in nutrition or health
  • Health-seeking practices
  • Allotment gardening

Recent publications:

Ripoll, Santiago (forthcoming). A framework for social science in epidemics. Anthropology in Action. March 2022.

Ripoll, Santiago (2021) The moral economy of labour and resistance to commoditisation in the Matagalpa highlands of Nicaragua, The Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2021.1928085

Hrynick, Tabitha, Ripoll, Santiago and Carter, Simone.  COVID-19 response: mitigating negative impacts on other areas of health. BMJ Global Health 2021;6:e004110.

Melissa Leach, Hayley MacGregor, Santiago Ripoll, Ian Scoones & Annie Wilkinson (2021) Rethinking disease preparedness: incertitude and the politics of knowledge, Critical Public Health, DOI: 10.1080/09581596.2021.1885628

Birgit Bichler, Elise Wach and Santiago Ripoll (2021). Participatory food systems analysis and transformation – methodological insights from a three-country initiative: Nicaragua, Senegal and England. Landbauforsh-Journal of Sustainable and Organic Agricultural Systems 70 (2): 157- 168. DOI:10.3220/LBF1614324857000

Wach, Elise and Ripoll, Santiago (2021). The transformative potential of agroecological farmers: a participatory analysis of food system strategies in Nicaragua and England. In: Tornaghi, C. and Dehaene, M. Resourcing an agroecological urbanism. Political, transformational and territorial dimensions. London: Routledge.

Roelen, K., Ackley, C., Boyce, P., Farina, N. and Ripoll, S. (2020) Covid-19 in LMICs: the need to place stigma front and centre to its response. The European journal of development research, 1–21. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-020-00316-6

McMurray, J., Doyle, M. and Ripoll, S. (2020). Questions of the Right and the Good: Metaethics and Anthropology. Sentio journal volume 2. http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/94465/

Bellwood-Howard, Imogen, and Santiago Ripoll (2020). “Divergent understandings of agroecology in the era of the African Green Revolution.”  Outlook on Agriculture 49 (2):103-10. doi: 10.1177/0030727020930353.

McGregor, H., Ripoll, S. and Melissa Leach (2020). Disease Outbreaks. Navigating uncertainty in preparedness and response. In: Scoones, I. and Stirling, A. (eds) 2020. The Politics of Uncertainty: Challenges of Transformation. London: Earthscan.

Ripoll, S. (2020) Death and Funerary Practices in the Context of Epidemics: Upholding the Rights of Religious Minorities. CREID working paper. Institute of Development Studies. https://www.socialscienceinaction.org/resources/death-and-funerary-practices-in-the-context-of-epidemics-upholding-the-rights-of-religious-minorities/




Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform

The Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform aims to establish networks of social scientists with regional and subject expertise to rapidly provide insight, analysis and advice, tailored to demand and in accessible forms, to better design and implement the social and communication...



We need trust in our politics to overcome vaccine hesitancy

As the global community celebrates the first person in the world receiving the Pfizer vaccine, we must not lose sight of the task ahead. While this news rightly represents the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, those of us who have studied the political dynamics of the pandemic would...

8 December 2020


Where is social science in the coronavirus response?

As the number of cases increase, with 6,065 confirmed cases and 132 deaths, we are learning more about coronavirus (nCoV) by the day and how it is spreading within China and globally. As crucial medical and epidemiological knowledge is being produced in real time, we believe that there is an...

31 January 2020


Journal Article

Social Science Approaches to Infodemiology: Understanding the Social, Political, and Economic Context of Information

Global Health Promotion

Embedded within the COVID-19 pandemic is the spread of a new pandemic of information – some accurate, some not – that can challenge the public health response. This has been termed an ‘infodemic’ and infodemic management is now a major feature of the World Health Organization’s work on...

11 March 2022


Review of the Evidence Landscape on the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Interventions Among the Rohingya Refugees to Enhance Healthcare Seeking Behaviours in Cox’s Bazar

This report is the first output in a body of work undertaken to identify operationally feasible suggestions to improve risk communication and community engagement efforts (RCCE) with displaced Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar. Specifically, these should seek to improve healthcare seeking...

22 July 2021

Book Chapter

Disease Outbreaks: Navigating Uncertainties in Preparedness and Response

The Politics of Uncertainty: Challenges of Transformation: Chapter 8

In recent years, fears about infectious diseases with pandemic potential have led to global initiatives to predict, prepare and respond to outbreaks. Practices that are focused on prediction and control centre on turning uncertainties into ‘risk’, through surveillance, modelling and...

4 December 2020

Santiago Ripoll’s recent work