Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Anne Pollock: 'Sickening: Anti-Black Racism and Health Disparities in the United States'

07 March 2023, 12:00 pm–1:30 pm

Anne Pollock book cover for Sickening

This event will take place in person and on Zoom

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







SHS Health, Mind and Society


Room 337, David Sacks
Rockefeller Building
21 University Street
United Kingdom

Anne Pollock’s latest book explores a series of distinct, evocative twenty-first-century events to illuminate wide-ranging elements of racial health disparities in the contemporary United States. Each chapter is grounded in close attention to a specific event: the deaths of postal workers in the 2001 anthrax attacks; the increase in chronic disease after Hurricane Katrina; the Scott sisters case, in which prison sentences were suspended conditional upon kidney donation; the differential protection of machines over people in the Flint water crisis; a teenage girl subjected to excessive force by a police officer at a suburban pool party; the life-threatening childbirth experience of Serena Williams. These extraordinary crises reveal fundamental racialization of access to citizenship and health in the contemporary United States.

Anne Pollock is a professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London, and currently serves as Head of Department. Her research explores feminist, antiracist, and postcolonial engagements with science, technology, and medicine. Broadly, she engaged in ongoing research in three intersecting areas: racism and health, feminist theory and biomedicine, and social studies of pharmaceuticals. She is the author of three books: Medicating Race: Heart Disease and Durable Preoccupations with Difference (Duke 2012), Synthesizing Hope: Matter, Knowledge, and Place in South African Drug Discovery (Chicago 2019), Sickening: Anti-Black Racism and Health Disparities in the United States (Minnesota 2021).

Respondents: Dr Paige Patchin (SPRC) and Dr Rochelle Burgess (Institute of Global Health).

This is a SHS Health, Mind and Society event, in association with the Sarah Parker Remond Centre.

The Health, Mind and Society initiative grows from work being carried out in the Faculty of Social and Historical Studies addressing the social, historical and cultural aspects of health. It draws on longstanding work within UCL’s Department of Anthropology which brings together social and biological understandings of health, as well as research in Geography, History, Economics, Politics, Sociology, the Institute of Advanced Studies, Archaeology and History of Art. Many of us also work in collaboration with colleagues in the medical sciences, in the Institute of Global Health, and Science and Technology Studies.

Social scientists in UCL have for some time carried out important work on health inequalities and their reproduction over generations, drawing on biosocial anthropology and lifecourse approaches. Our work addresses urgent social issues around mental health, race and racism in health, on environmental impacts on health and on social and ethical questions related to new technologies of health – from reproductive technologies to mobile applications. We also recognise the importance of the historical and cultural dimensions of health – from artistic depictions of the human body over time, to the long history and reach of Chinese medicine.