Sarah O'Neill

Status :

  • Associate Researcher, Doctor in Social Anthropology
ULB-Institut de sociologie
Avenue Jeanne, 44 - CP124 - B-1050 Bruxelles
Office : S12-103
Phone : +32-2-650 38 88 - Fax : +32-2-650 43 37
Mail :
Permanence : Thursday from 1 pm till 3 pm

Obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2013. Her PhD research was concerned with local people’s opposition to the national ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Fouta Toro, northern Senegal. The thesis was awarded the Audrey Richards Prize of the African Studies Association of the UK in 2014. Since then she has also worked on African men’s involvement in FGM/C in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK in the context of a Daphne funded project (Men Speak Out). Sarah has also worked as a consultant on FGM/C for the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). Recent fieldwork has been undertaken at an FGM specialist clinic in Brussels. Other research in the context of a postdoc position at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp (ITM) was concerned with malaria clinical trials, research ethics, health-seeking behaviour and neonatal health at the Medical Research Council in the Gambia and on intra-vaginal practices and reproductive health in Tanzania. While at ITM, Sarah also obtained a grant from the Flemish Government for a 3 year interdisciplinary study aiming to contribute to the identification of the cause of Nodding Syndrome/Epilepsy (Cameroon, Tanzania and Uganda).


  • O’Neill S. (2018) Purity, cleanliness and smell – female circumcision, embodiment and discourses among midwives and excisers in Fouta Toro, Senegal. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
  • Caillet M, O’Neill S, Minsart A F, Richard F (2018) Addressing FGM with multidisciplinary care. The experience of French speaking Belgium. Current Sexual Health Reports
  • Dierickx S, O’Neill S, Gryseels C, Anyango E, Bannister-Tyrrell M, Okebe J, Mwesigwa J, Jaiteh F, Gerrets R, Ravinetto R, D’Alessandro U, Peeters Grietens K (2017) Community sensitization and decision-making for trial participation: a mixed-methods study from The Gambia. Developing World Bioethics DOI: 10.1111/dewb.12160
  • O‘Neill S, Clarke E, Peeters Grietens K (2016) How to protect your new-born from neonatal death: Infant feeding and medical practices in the Gambia. Women’s Studies International Forum 60 (2017) 136–143.
  • O’Neill S, Dierickx S, Okebe J, Dabira E, Gryseels C, d’Alessandro U, et al. (2016) The Importance of Blood Is Infinite: Conceptions of Blood as Life Force, Rumours and Fear of Trial Participation in a Fulani Village in Rural Gambia. PLoS ONE 11(8):e0160464. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0160464
  • Jaiteh F, Dierickx S, Gryseels C, O’Neill S, D’Alessandro U, Scott S, Balen J, Peeters Grietens K (2016) ‘Some anti-malarials are too strong for your body, they will harm you.’ Socio-cultural factors influencing pregnant women’s adherence to anti-malarial treatment in rural Gambia. Malaria Journal 2016 15:195 DOI:10.1186/s12936-016-1255-0
  • Dierickx S, Gryseels C, Mwesigwa J, O’Neill S, Bannister-Tyrell M, Ronse M, et al. (2016) Factors Associated with Non-Participation and Non-Adherence in Directly Observed Mass Drug Administration for Malaria in The Gambia. PLoS One [Internet]. 2016;11(2):e0148627. Available from:
  • O’Neill S, Gryseels C, Dierickx S, Mwesigwa J, Okebe J, d’Alessandro U, Peeters Grietens K. (2015) Foul wind, spirits and witchcraft: illness conceptions and health-seeking behaviour for malaria in the Gambia. Malaria Journal (2015) 14:167 DOI 10.1186/s12936-015-0687-2
  • Peeters Grietens K, Muela Ribera J, Erhart A, Hoibak S, Ravinetto R, Gryseels C, Dierickx S, O’Neill S, Hausmann Muela S, D’Alessandro U. (2014) Doctors and Vampires in Sub-Saharan Africa: Ethical Challenges in Clinical Trial Research. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 91(2), 213–5. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.13-0630

Non-anthropological publications:

  • Hendy A, Krüger A, Pfarr K, De Witte J, Kibweja A, Mwingira U, Dujardin JC, Post R, Colebunders R, O’Neill S, Kalinga A. The blackfly vectors and transmission of Onchocerca volvulus in Mahenge, south eastern Tanzania. Acta Trop. 2018 May;181:50-59. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2018.01.009. Epub 2018 Feb 2.
  • Colebunders R, Mandro M, Njamnshi A, Boussinesq M, Hotterbeekx A, Kamgno J, O’Neill S, Hopkins A, Basanez MG, Post R, Pedrique B, Preux PM, Stolk W, Nutman T, Idro R (2018) Report of the first international workshop on onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy. Journal of Infectious Diseases and Poverty7(1):23
  • Richard F. et al (2017) Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: sharing data and experiences to accelerate eradication and improve care: part 2 Reproductive Health2017 14(Suppl 2):115
  • Colebunders R, Post R, O’Neill S, Haesaert G, Opar B, LakwoT, Laudisoit A, Hendy A. Nodding syndrome since 2012: recent progress, challenges and recommendations for future research. Trop Med Int Health. 2014 Oct 28. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12421.

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