Workshop – April 21-22: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Hospital Ethnographies

Organized by Divine Fuh, HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and Fanny Chabrol, CEPED-IRD, France and funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, this workshop is located within the framework of the project Future Hospitals: 4IR/AI and the Ethics of Care at HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa headed by Divine Fuh, and the “Hospital Multiple” at CEPED-IRD headed by Fanny Chabrol.

The workshop aims at proposing new ethnographic methodological and conceptual tools to think and imagine the “hospital of the future” in Africa, in particular, the way artificial intelligence (AI) seeks to transform and is currently transforming access to health care in hospitals today and in the coming years. Our project aims to build a problematisation of the hospital of the future and an ethnographic method to critically analyse the ethical, regulatory, and political issues with respect to AI, healthcare, and hospitals on the continent. We consider the “hospital of the future” – through the digitalization and computer automation of healthcare – as a global promise that needs to be challenged by ethnographic methods within hospitals, engaging with persons interacting with them. The first line of inquiry will challenge the logic of adoption and Africa as a place where development policies are implemented, where infrastructure projects are developed, in which technological innovation, mainly coming from the West, is presented as the promise of better health for those in need.

The second axis will explore and propose methodological and conceptual tools for the study of the transformation of the hospital landscape with regards to Artificial Intelligence promises to improve access to healthcare and, therefore, healthy living.

Among the key questions we wish to ask are the following: What kinds of hospitals will we need, and what will they look like? How are representations of the hospital of the future transcribed in various locations in Africa? How will AI affect the hospital infrastructure, medical and care work, and hospital ethnography? What kind of regulatory mechanisms and policy instruments is being developed? How can anthropology/ethnography contribute to the public debate and ethical reflection on AI and hospitals?

Workshop Format

The workshop will be organized as a hybrid event (in-person and virtual). It will aim towards producing an edited collection by Divine Fuh and Fanny Chabrol on “Artificial Intelligence and Future Hospital Ethnographies.” Draft papers will be pre-circulated before the workshop, during which period participants and contributors will review each other’s contributions. A set of core readings will be circulated for all workshop participants to read and discuss. The morning of Day 1 will focus on discussing the key questions, the conceptual framework of the project, while the afternoon will begin individual chapter contributions from participants that will continue into Day 2. One hour will be dedicated to critically discussing each contribution.


8h30-9h00: Registration + Coffee

9h-10h00: Welcome and Introducing project, context, ideas
Divine Fuh | HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Fanny Chabrol | CEPED | France

10h00-10h30 Coffee break

10h30-12h00: session 1
Marisa Mika | CSTMS, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Benson Mulemi | Catholic University, Kenya
Innocent Ali, University of Dschang, Cameroun

12h00-13h00 Lunch break

13h00-14h30: session 2
Dominique Somda | HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Amina Soulimani | HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Georges Eyenga | WISER, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

14h30-15h00 Coffee break

15h00-16h30: Session 3
Chikezie Uzuegbunam | HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Leah Junck | HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Min’ehle Ncube | HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa