Qualitative data for states of emergency: citizenship in crisis in Sierra Leone 2017

The research project develops work on the association of security and development priorities, by exploring how a heavily militarised response to the outbreak of Ebola has influenced experiences of citizenship amongst socio-economically marginal youth in Sierra Leone. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, from medical anthropology to security studies and political sociology, this study will probe into the nature of state-society relation in times of 'crisis'. In so doing it will analyse both normative definitions of citizenship created through emergency policy interventions and the everyday negotiations and contestations of citizenship by marginal youth living in a constant state of emergency. The Ebola outbreak that has overwhelmed West Africa since 2014 came only a decade after the end of a devastating civil war in Sierra Leone. The cyclical nature of crisis has been linked to structural fragilities, including weak institutions unable to gain the trust of large populations living in poverty. This has made Sierra Leone emblematic of the increasing trend in international development policy that treats poverty reduction as a security priority aimed at mitigating threats to national and international stability. Young people living on the margins have been especially affected by the increasing depiction of poverty as a security risk. First, as they were identified as potential recruits in rebel armies, and secondly as they were seen as vessels of disease during an Ebola outbreak characterised by urban contagion. Young people's recent experiences of a militarised Ebola response thus offer a fascinating entry-point into the study of how crisis creates citizens in a developing country. While much has been written on the processes whereby security and development priorities have become intertwined, much less is known about how these dynamics impact target populations. This study will thus explore how the securitisation of poverty influences definitions, negotiations and experiences of citizenship in Sierra Leone. This means firstly understanding how the proclamation of states of emergency influences normative definitions of citizenship. Secondly, it means exploring how living under emergency shapes how citizens relate to their sovereign authority and how they negotiate their position in a fragile political community. Through ethnographic research in two locations heavily affected by the outbreak (Freetown & Kambia) the study explores young people's everyday interactions with state institutions and their resulting definitions, negotiations and expectations of citizenship.

This dataset relates to an ESRC-funded project entitled State of Emergency: Citizenship in Crisis in Sierra Leone. Through ethnographic research in Freetown and Kambia (Northern Province) this project explored young people's understandings and experiences of citizenship in the aftermath of Ebola, focusing on state-society relations, expectations and the political imagination in/after crisis.

The dataset includes redacted personal field notes, information provided to participants and topic guides.

Development studies
Social anthropology

Cite this dataset as:
Enria, L., 2019. Qualitative data for states of emergency: citizenship in crisis in Sierra Leone 2017. Bath: University of Bath Research Data Archive. Available from: https://doi.org/10.15125/BATH-00596.


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Access on request: Access to the available documentation may be granted on request to bona fide researchers.


Luisa Enria
University of Bath


University of Bath
Rights Holder


Collection date(s):

From 2 January 2017 to 30 September 2018

Temporal coverage:

From 1 March 2014 to 30 September 2018

Time period:


Geographical coverage:

Sierra Leone


Data collection method:

Primary data was collected in Freetown and Kambia District, Sierra Leone. The project used ethnographic methods, specifically participatory observation (detailed through field notes) and discussions with young people, elders and officials.

Data processing and preparation activities:

Field notes were hand written and kept in a locked cabinet. They were thoroughly redacted for the purposes of archiving.

Additional information:

Consent was not granted for sharing interview transcripts and so these are not included in the dataset.


State of Emergency … Guide.docx
application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document (107kB)
Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0

Research topic Guide

Legal and Ethical Documents

Info sheet … of Emergency.pdf
application/pdf (64kB)
Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0

Information sheet for participants


Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Future Research Leaders 2016 Luisa Enria - States of Emergency: Citizenship in Times of Crisis in Sierra Leone

Publication details

Publication date: 31 January 2019
by: University of Bath

Version: 1

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15125/BATH-00596

URL for this record: https://researchdata.bath.ac.uk/id/eprint/596

Contact information

Please contact the Research Data Service in the first instance for all matters concerning this item.

Contact person: Luisa Enria


Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
Social & Policy Sciences

Research Centres & Institutes
Centre for Development Studies