Susan Shepler is an anthropologist and an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University with extensive experience working in conflict-affected West Africa. Her research focuses on understanding how local communities engage with international interventions and the complexities of those local responses, including the micro-politics of gender, age, religious affiliation, and ethnicity.
Shepler is spent the 2019-2020 academic year as a visiting professor at the University of Makeni in Sierra Leone, where she also conducted ethnographic fieldwork for her next book, tentatively titled “Power You Can Trust”: Fractal Sovereignty in Sierra Leone. It examines the global health community’s conclusion following the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016 that citizens should place more trust in their state while analyzing why Sierra Leoneans might not trust their state and describing their relationship to a range of governance actors. She plans to spend her fellowship year at Kellogg completing the manuscript and studying questions of democracy in fragile states.
Shepler is the author of the widely-reviewed Childhood Deployed: Remaking Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone (New York University Press, 2014), and her articles have appeared in a number of scholarly journals. She has consulted with organizations including UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee, Search for Common Ground, Fambul Tok, and Children in Crisis.
Shepler earned an MA in mathematics and a PhD in social and cultural studies in education from the University of California, Berkeley.
How Math Explains Politics in Sierra Leone
Feb 3, 2021
Visiting Fellow Susan Shepler is an anthropologist whose work has been deeply shaped by her background in math. She studies political systems in Africa with a focus on Sierra Leone.