Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Past Events

Here you can find recordings and information about our past Heath, Mind and Society events

Event recordings


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

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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.

Clare Chandler: 'Development with Antibiotics: case studies from Uganda' (March 2023)

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Presented by Clare Chandler on behalf of Christine Nabirye, Miriam Kayendeke, Sarah Staedke, Paula Palanco Lopez, Laurie Denyer Willis & Susan Nayiga

This presentation explores ways in which antibiotics have come to organise societies, with case studies from Uganda. The prospect of a future in which antibiotics fail to cure everyday illnesses has highlighted the significance of these substances in the ways that people live today. Antibiotics are often described as a cornerstone of modern medicine. Here we join others in observing the relations of antibiotics to modernity more broadly. Drawing from ethnographic case studies in Uganda - in archives, rural homesteads, peri-urban farms and urban informal settlements - this presentation illustrates how antibiotics propel a development agenda premised on citizen responsibility and entrepreneurship.

Clare Chandler is a Professor in Medical Anthropology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Over the past 20 years, her research has focused on the domains, devices and infrastructures of health care in the era of global health, in particular in east and southern Africa. Clare led the ESRC-funded Antimicrobials in Society (AMIS) programme which aimed to bring fresh perspectives from the social sciences to the problem of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Co-authors of this presentation, all co-investigators and collaborators on the AMIS programme in Uganda, each led aspects of the case studies that inform this collective analysis.

Emmanuelle Roth and Gregg Mitman: 'On Fragments and Hotspots: Containment and Care in the Extraction of Mount Nimba'

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This is a joint event hosted by SHS Health, Mind and Society and UCL Anthropocene

The hotspot. In an age of anxiety about climate change, species extinction, and disease outbreaks, the hotspot is an iconic image in tales of the Anthropocene. Its genealogies are many and span biogeography, conservation science, disease ecology, and their economies of knowledge production. In a snippet of Zaire Ebola virus taken from a Nimba long-fingered bat that lived in an abandoned mining adit in a fragment of the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the scales and histories of the hotspot converge. 

Situated on the Liberia-Guinea-Côte d'Ivoire border, the Mount Nimba region, with its precious iron ore formations, species-rich rainforests, and novel viruses, gives us a glimpse into what human, nonhuman, and inanimate beings can be to each other. The fractured formations and tectonic plates of friction that comprise Nimba’s geological and life histories invite us to rethink categories of the social beyond those described by multispecies ethnography. Hotspots–of extractive investment, of biodiversity, of emerging infectious diseases–each thrive on particular bedrock and attract certain gatherings of science, politics, and capital.  Changing strategies of containment and care have shaped relations between and among the living and nonliving actors in this extractive zone where the interests of mining, conservation, pandemic preparedness, local livelihoods, and ecotourism converge, collaborate, and collide.  

In this talk, we follow the recent geo turn in the humanities and ask what new social worlds and power relations appear when we extend constituent players beyond the living to include, for example, the earth’s rock strata or the discarded remains of human activities.  In this fragment of the Upper Guinean Forests of West Africa, unexpected alliances among rocks, plants, animals, viruses and people appear as past relations are severed, new bonds are forged, and uneasy compromises are found in the disarray and order that cycles of capitalist extraction unleash and seek to impose.

Emmanuelle Roth is an anthropologist and a postdoctoral research fellow in the project “Fragments of the Forest: Hot Zones, Disease Ecologies, and the Changing Landscape of Environment and Health in West Africa,” funded by the European Research Council (2021–2026) and located at the Rachel Carson Center. She works at the crossroads between medical anthropology, science and technology studies, and environmental history, and investigates discourses about epidemic origins, interactions between humans and nonhumans, and historical configurations of insecurity in West Africa.

Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is also a Guest Research Professor at LMU’s Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, where he leads a European Research Council Advanced Grant, Fragments of the Forest: Hot Zones, Disease Ecologies, and the Changing Landscape of Environment and Health in West Africa.   A historian of science, medicine, and the environment, Mitman has spent the last decade on a multimedia project—films, a book, and public history website—exploring the history and legacy of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia. His most recent book, Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia, was published by The New Press in 2021.


The Social Life of Technologies in and for Health (December 2022)

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This Health, Mind and Society event highlights one of our three thematic areas, 'The Social Life of Technologies in and for Health'. This theme invites consideration of the various forms of power that health technologies are invested with, and the ways in which they are mutually constituted with social values, relations, practices and effects. We hope this conversation will open up questions about what counts as a technology, what technologies work with (and against), and how these (re)set the conditions and parameters of the body's alterability.

Elaine Leong (History): "Technologies of Health in Early Modern London”

Russell Hitchings (Geography): "In the park and on your phone: discussing smartphone use in urban greenspace with university students and implications for mental health promotion"

Danny Miller (Anthropology): "An anthropological alternative to mHealth"

Noémi Tousignant (STS): "Cheap technology, differential valuation of life"

Saheli Datta Burton (STS): "The (un)Social Life of Personalised Medicine

Biosocial Continuums and the Lifecourse (October 2022)

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The event showcases the work going on in the faculty in relation to 'Biosocial Continuums and the Lifecourse' to demonstrate the cross-disciplinary scope and breadth of research in SHS and to think through synergies that might develop within and beyond the faculty in relation to this thematic area.

Susie Kilshaw - Practices around pregnancy endings and their absence

Ishtar Govia - Aging and Dementia in the Majority World

Danny Miller - ASSA: The comparative anthropology of ageing with smartphones

Emily Emmott - Breastfeeding and Motherhood: Evolutionary Anthropological Insights

Sahra Gibbon - The Biosocial Lives of Birth Cohorts

Carrie Ryan - Ageing Playfully: Play and Games for Ageing Wellbeing


Nancy Krieger: ‘Ecosocial Theory, Embodied Truths and the People’s Health’ (June 2022)

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Nancy Krieger, Professor of Social Epidemiology and the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, author and leading proponent of ecosocial theory and one of most important and influential scholars in social epidemiology addressing health inequalities.

Sponsored by the Biosocial Birth Cohort Research Network and SHS Health, Mind and Society.


Situating the Mind (May 2022)

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What Social and Historical Sciences bring to the understanding of mind/the mental. Run by the SHS Health, Mind and Society initiative, this event highlights the contributions of UCL research in Social and Historical Sciences to the study of mind, mental health, mental illness, and diverse approaches to intervention as contextualized within unique cultures and histories.


A Regulatory State of Exception: Vaccines and the Politics of Expertise in the Covid Emergency (Vaccines in View Seminar series)

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Part of the Vaccines in View: UCL Medical Anthropology Seminar Series.

Incorporating pandemic public health, social inequalities, geopolitics, conspiracies and beyond, COVID-19 vaccines find themselves at the centre of the most significant debates of our time. 

Anthropologists and social scientists have particularly important voices that need to be heard on this matter and are placed in the unique position of watching noteworthy global events unfold before us.  As such, UCL Medical Anthropology invites you to engage with unfolding debates on vaccines and the pandemic through the ‘Vaccines in View Seminar Series’.


Unmasked: COVID, Community and the Case of Okoboji (May 2022)

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Unmasked: COVID, Community and the Case of Okoboji. Vanderbilt University Press by Emily Mendenhall, Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Unmasked is the story of what happened in Okoboji, a small Iowan tourist town, when a collective turn from the coronavirus to the economy occurred in the COVID summer of 2020. State political failures, local negotiations among political and public health leaders, and community (dis)belief about the virus resulted in Okoboji being declared a hotspot just before the Independence Day weekend, when an influx of half a million people visit the town.

The story is both personal and political. Author Emily Mendenhall, an anthropologist at Georgetown University, grew up in Okoboji, and her family still lives there. As the events unfolded, Mendenhall was in Okoboji, where she spoke formally with over 100 people and observed a community that rejected public health guidance, revealing deep-seated mistrust in outsiders and strong commitments to local thinking. Unmasked is a fascinating and heartbreaking account of where people put their trust, and how isolationist popular beliefs can be in America's small communities.


For information about any of our upcoming events, please visit the Events page here.