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Susan Shepler Associate Professor Peace, Human Rights & Cultural Relations

Susan Shepler
SIS | Peace, Human Rights & Cultural Relations
School of International Service 209
Office Hours: Mondays, 2:30-5:30 PM
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Additional Positions at AU
SIS PhD Program Director
PhD, social and cultural studies in education, University of California, Berkeley
MA, mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
BA, mathematics, University of California, Santa Cruz

Book Currently Reading
<i>Hybrid Sovereignty in World Politics</i> by Swati Srivastava
Susan Shepler is an anthropologist with twenty years of experience working in conflict-affected West Africa. Her research focus is understanding how local communities engage with international interventions of various kinds, including reintegration of former child soldiers, teacher training for refugees, transitional justice, Ebola response, and more. Her goal is to understand the complexities of local responses to interventions, including the micro-politics of gender, age, religious affiliation, and ethnicity.

She has conducted or led many different qualitative research projects, primarily conducting many years of ethnographic fieldwork in Sierra Leone. She has also conducted interviews, focus groups, and surveys among conflict-affected people in Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria. Her scholarly work has appeared in journals including the Journal of Modern African Studies, Anthropological Quarterly, Africa Today, Comparative Education, the Journal of Human Rights, and others. Her 2014 book on the reintegration of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, Childhood Deployed, was published by NYU Press.

In addition to her academic work she has consulted with organizations such as UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee, Search for Common Ground, Fambul Tok, Children in Crisis, and others.
See Also profile
@SusanShepler on Twitter
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Spring 2024

  • SIS-804 Soc Theory Comp & Int'l Persp

  • SIS-898 Doctoral Continuing Enrollment

Partnerships & Affiliations

  • University of Makeni, Sierra Leone
    Visiting Lecturer

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Selected Publications

  • “Barriers to Girls’ Education in Rural Sierra Leone: Results of Participatory Research.” in War, Women, and Post-conflict Empowerment: Lessons from Sierra Leone. Josephine Beoku-Betts and Fredline M’Cormack-Hale, eds.  Zed Books.  2022.
  • “Understanding Sierra Leonean and Liberian teachers’ views on discussing past wars in their classrooms” (co-authored with James H. Williams).  Special issue of Comparative Education on education and transitional justice. 53(3): 418-441. Co-edited by Michelle Bellino, Elizabeth Worden, and Julia Paulson.  Published online, June 17, 2017.
  • “‘We Know Who is Eating the Ebola Money!’: Corruption, the State, and the Ebola Response” Anthropological Quarterly, 90(2): 457-480. In special issue on Production of Knowledge about Ebola, co-edited by Susan Shepler and Catherine Bolten. 2017.
  • “Producing Ebola: Creating Knowledge in and About an Epidemic.” (co-authored with Catherine Bolten).  Introduction to special issue of Anthropological Quarterly, 90(2): 355-374. In special issue on Production of Knowledge about Ebola, co-edited by Susan Shepler and Catherine Bolten. 2017.
  • “Fears and Misperceptions of the Ebola Response System during the 2014-2015 Outbreak in Sierra Leone.”  Co-authored with Thespina Yamanis and Elisabeth Nolan. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 10(10). October 18, 2016.
  • “Effects in post-conflict West Africa of teacher training for refugee women.” Co-authored with Sharyn Routh.  Gender and Education. 24(4): 429-441.  July 2012.
  • “Introduction to Special Issue:  Everyday Life in Post-war Sierra Leone.”  Co-authored with Aisha Fofana Ibrahim.  Africa Today.  58(2): v-xii.  December 2011.
  • “The Real and Symbolic Importance of Food in War: Hunger Pains and Big Men’s Bellies in Sierra Leone.” Africa Today. 58(2): 43-56.  December 2011.
  • "Child labour and youth enterprise: Post-war urban infrastructure and the bearing boys of Freetown." Anthropology Today. 26(6): 19-22. December 2010.   
  • "Youth Music and Politics in Postwar Sierra Leone." The Journal of Modern African Studies. 48(4). 627-642. 2010.   
  • "Transnational Fosterage: The Novel Care Arrangements between Guinean Caregivers and Ivorian and Liberian Children Fleeing War" in Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective. Cati Coe and Rachel Reynolds, Eds. Vanderbilt University Press. 2011.   
  • "Post-war trajectories for girls associated with the fighting forces in Sierra Leone." in  Gender, War, and Militarism. Laura Sjoberg and Sandra Via, Eds. Praeger Security International Series: Santa Barbara. 2010.   
  • "Shifting priorities in child protection in Sierra Leone since Lome" in Sierra Leone Beyond Lome: Challenges and Possibilities for a Post-War Nation, Marda Mustapha and Joseph Bangura, Eds. Palgrave. 2010.   
  • "Are child soldiers in Sierra Leone a new phenomenon?" in The Powerful Presence of the Past: Historical Dimensions of Integration and Conflict in the Upper Guinea Coast , sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle Germany. Jacqueline Knorr and Wilson Trajano Filho, Eds. Brill Publishers. 2010.  
  • "Documenting Human Rights Abuses among the Diaspora: Lessons Learned from the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission" (co-authored with Patricia Minikon.) In Human Rights after the Cold War: Assessing Challenges and Opportunities. Noha Shawki and Michaelene Cox, editors. Ashgate Publishers.; 2009.   
  • "The Rites of the Child: Global Discourses of Youth and Reintegrating Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone" Journal of Human Rights, June 2005.  
  • "Globalizing Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone," in Youthscapes: The Popular, The National, The Global, December 2004.   
  • "Educated in War: The Rehabilitation of Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone" in Conflict Resolution and Peace Education in Africa, August 2003.   
  • "Les Filles-Soldats: Trajectoires d'apres-guerre en Sierra Leone" Politique Africaine, December 2002.   
  • "Education as a Site of Political Struggle in Sierra Leone" Antropologicas, 1998.

Grants and Sponsored Research

The Smartphone Pandemic: Mobile technologies and data in the COVID-19 response (SMARTPREP), funded by the Research Council of Norway.  2020-2022

Education, State Fragility, and Armed Conflict in West Africa, Spencer Foundation Research Grant,  2013-2014

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame.  2020-2021.
  • Visiting Professor at University of Makeni, Sierra Leone.  2019-20.
  • Visiting Professor at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto.  Fall 2016.
  • George Arnhold Professor at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig, Germany.  2014-2015
  • Fulbright Scholar in Nigeria, 2013-2014
  • Winner (with Sharyn Routh) of INEE's Jackie Kirk Commemorative Competition 2009.   
  • Outstanding Dissertation in Comparative Education – Gail P. Kelly Award from the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). 2006.   
  • Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation dissertation year fellowship. 2004.   
  • Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation dissertation fellowship. 2003, 2004.   
  • American Association of University Women, American Dissertation Fellowship. 2003.