Program for Advanced Research on Health and Society in Africa
Narrative Analysis for HIV/AIDS Communication in Africa


Between six and seven thousand people in Africa will die of AIDS today. More than half of them will have contracted HIV before the age of 25. The epidemic is not only taking a huge toll on individuals, families and communities, but also on the very fabric of society and on nations’ economic productivity and potential.

Because young people are so vulnerable to HIV, it makes sense to listen to them and to take the lead from them when designing communication programs. An innovative research initiative at Emory is doing just that. Since 1997, the Scenarios from Africa communication initiative, coordinated by the British non-governmental organization Global Dialogues ( , has been organizing contests inviting children, adolescents and young adults to come up with ideas for short films about HIV/AIDS. The winning ideas, selected by juries, are transformed into short fiction films by leading African directors and screened on television and at community level. In addition to a collection of films, the Scenarios process has generated an archive of 14,000 stories about HIV/AIDS, written by young people in 25 African countries, which is now located at Emory.

“The stories help us understand how young people imagine, represent and understand HIV/AIDS in social context and how they make sense of an epidemic that has so profoundly impacted society and everyday life in Africa,” says Kate Winskell, Associate Director of Emory’s Center for Health, Culture and Society and co-manager of Scenarios from Africa. The stories can help identify gaps in young people’s knowledge and indicate how well they are able to apply the information they have received about HIV/AIDS. As a result, they can help us design and implement more effective ways of reaching young people with appropriate information. The archive also has the advantage of being a historical resource, allowing us to track knowledge and attitudes over time and between countries.

Winskell has coordinated Scenarios from Africa since 1997 with her husband, Daniel Enger, for the British NGO Global Dialogues ( She first came to Emory in 1998 as a Rockefeller post-doctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship and the Center for Health, Culture and Society.

Workshop Overview

With support from the Office of International Affairs, the Center for Health, Culture and Society and the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship organized a workshop and training session to advance research on the Scenarios from Africa archive.
The workshop entitled “"Narrative Analysis for HIV/AIDS Communication in Africa" was held at Emory May 15 -17, 2004. The workshop brought together HIV/AIDS communication specialists from Senegal, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, along with faculty and students from the Institute of Liberal Arts, Anthropology, Public Health and Medicine, and colleagues from various divisions of CDC and from the non-governmental organization Family Health International. It was followed by a two-day training in Atlas.ti, a software program for the analysis of qualitative data.

Workshop Participants

Peter Brown, Emory/CHCS
Sarah Castle, CPS/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Svea Closser, Emory/CHCS fellow/Anthropology
Joanna Davidson, Emory/Anthropology
Fatim Louise Dia, ACI
Ann DiGirolamo, Emory/School of Public Health
Gary Engelberg, Africa Consultants International
Daniel Enger, Global Dialogues
Margaret Farrell, Emory/School of Public Health
Erin Finley, Emory/CHCS fellow/Anthropology
Kendra Hatfield-Timajchy, Emory/Anthropology Dept.
Laurie Helzer, Emory/Rollins School of Public Health/CHCS fellow
Dan Hruschka, Emory/former CHCS fellow
Ivan Karp, Emory/Center for Study of Public Scholarship/Institute of the Liberal Arts
Brandon Kohrt, Emory/Anthropology Dept and Medical School
Cory Kratz, Emory/Center for Study of Public Scholarship
Kate MacQueen, Family Health International
Bobbie Person, CDC/NCID
Joseph Petraglia, CDC/GAP
Ana Schaller de la Cova, Emory/Anthropology
Jay Straker, Emory/Institute of the Liberal Arts
Martin Swaka, Emory/School of Public Health
Larissa Thomas, Emory/Medical School
Thomas Tufte, Roskilde University
Sarah Willen, Emory/Anthro/CHCS fellow
Kate Winskell, Emory/CHCS and Global Dialogues
Nick Woolf, Consultant and Software Trainer
Rose Zambezi, Emory/School of Public Health

Outcomes and Objectives

The Scenarios archives is a goldmine for future research. The workshop and training led to a clearer vision of the full potential of the archive, a sense of potential future research interests, and more defined interdisciplinary methodologies for its analysis. It will lead to the development of a proposal for an externally-funded research project focusing on the Scenarios from Africa archive.

In addition, the coding of the archive scenarios will provide a source for Emory student training and student research. In future semesters, we anticipate uniting this research effort with teaching by developing a Theory-Practice-Learning course on "Communication, Health and Social Change" that will use the Scenarios project as a central case study.

For more information, please see the Global Dialogues site.