An Ethnographic Experience: Freedom, Fiction, and Medicine Women in Afrofuturist Contexts

Carolina Nvé Díaz San Francisco

Disparities Research Unit, Harvard Medicine School


This narrative essay addresses the theme of possibilities in the field of anthropology. Anthropology is a science that studies humans and guides social research through normative and stipulations of scientific epistemologies about methodology, observer-informant relationships, and objectivity. This narrative essay attempts to move conceptualizations of the self and culture perceived as objects of study, toward dynamic forms of expressions and performances of daily life. Research study and fieldwork based on the meanings and practices surrounding health care systems, social welfare and social medicine in Equatorial Guinea bring to light embodied imaginaries of a Black woman anthropologist that enters the country from the diaspora to learn about her African roots. This paper intends to show the possibility of a research enterprise that merges with elements of science fiction to ultimate recreate a unique ethnographic experience. This unique ethnographic experience involves a missing Equatoguinean father, lost references of Equatorial Guinea as a country of origin, a search of identity, everlasting desires to reconnect with Africa, and a long trajectory of training and practice in anthropology. The result conveys a reflection on how fieldwork undertaken in a socio-political territory that revolves around a 40 year-long dictatorship leads a Black woman anthropologist to connect in Afrofuturistic ways with the nganga, a Fang denomination for medicine women in Equatorial Guinea. The goal is to contribute to restoration and healing. 


Equatorial Guinea; Medical Anthropology; Ethnography; Afrofuturism

Author contact: cmdiazsf [at]

Citation: Nvé Díaz San Francisco, C., 2019. “An Ethnographic Experience: Freedom, Fiction, and Medicine Women in Afrofuturist Contexts”, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 22(1), 138-146.