Prof. Sara Randall

Professor of Anthropology
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 8629

www: UCL staff

After an undergraduate degree in Anthropology at Durham University I studied Demography at Masters and then PhD level at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. During my PhD which focused on the demographic dynamics of rural Malian populations with different production systems, I tried to integrate anthropological approaches to both data collection and interpretation in order to understand the key factors influencing the diversity of demographic outcomes in these isolated rural populations. Such a mixed methods approach to understanding demographic issues has been a major dimension of most of my subsequent research.

In the past my particular research interest was the demography of nomadic pastoralists and I collected and analysed data on the dynamics of Tuareg populations in Mali over a twenty year period from 1981-2001, both before and after they were involved in a forced migration and sedentarisation as a result of conflict. I have considerable experience of field data collection (both quantitative and qualitative) in Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso under a range of conditions: illiterate pastoral nomads, large agricultural villages, poor and more wealthy areas in small towns and capital cities. I have also undertaken more limited research in East Africa, Mongolia and analysing data collected by others on Palestinian demography. I have focused on issues such as health behaviour, reproductive decision making, the impact of migration on those left behind as well as trying to understand the determinants of different patterns of demographic dynamics in poor, rural African populations. A key issue which has emerged is the mismatch between the concepts used in survey data collection and the extent to which these concepts match with respondents' own ideas about what is important and their daily realities.

The ESRC funded research with Ernestina Coast and Tiziana Leone on the commodity chain of the household focused on this aspect through collecting and analysing qualitative data from data producers and users as well as the more conventional subjects of demographic research. In the current era of DHS and other international data surveys, I am unusual in that I have considerable experience of collecting and analysing my own demographic data rather than using those produced by others. Regularly observing respondents reactions to questions leads me to question many aspects of the international data production process.

Please see my personal web page for a list of publications