Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Dr Rebecca Irons

Academic position: Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow

Department: Institute for Global Health

Email: Rebecca.irons@ucl.ac.uk

Website: Dr Rebecca Irons


I am a medical anthropologist working at the intersections of critical global health, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, migration, and the Anthropocene. 

My current Wellcome Trust Research fellowship investigates biosociality, pharmaceutical citizenship, and race amongst Venezuelan migrants living with HIV in Colombia. 

I have held previous Wellcome Trust funded fellowships to work with the United Nations Population Fund on migrant access to reproductive and sexual health in Peru, to work with the Nuffield Trust on the underrepresentation of Black management in the UK NHS, and as a doctoral student researching family planning and coloniality with the Indigenous Quechua of Peru. 

I am very interested in creative methods. I am currently developing a virtual escape room based on migrant experiences accessing HIV medication (Wellcome Trust); a photovoice project with female migrants living with HIV (Wellcome Trust), and an exhibition displaying a participatory postcards project with migrants. 

Research Projects:

Selected Projects:

Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science         
Apr 2022 - present
Project: Positively Belonging?: Venezuelan Migrants with HIV/AIDS at the intersections of Pharmaceutical Citizenship, Biosocialities, Race and Biomedicine

Aug 2024 – Jul 2025
Project: From Oil Slicks to Polluted Fish: Food Security, Environmental Contamination, and Artisanal Fishing Rights in the Peruvian Pacific Anthropocene (Principal Investigator)     

Feb 2021-Sep 2021
Project: Reimagining the Pacific: Images of the Ocean in Chile and Peru, c.1960 to the present (Research Associate in Environmental Humanities)

Apr 2020 - Sep 2020
Project: Documenting and understanding Decision Making in Management Teams during the COVID 19 pandemic at the Royal Free. An embedded hospital ethnography (Principal Investigator)

Oct 2021- Mar 2022
Nuffield Trust, London
Project: Diversity Amongst Decision Makers?: BME Representation in NHS Non-Clinical Management (Research Fellow)

Jul 2019 - Dec 2019
United Nations Population Fund, Peru.
Project: Venezuelan Refugee access to Reproductive and Sexual Health Services in Peru: Understanding and Addressing the Need (Research Fellow    )                       


Irons, R. 2023. Censusing the Quechua: Peruvian State Obstetras In Light of Historic Sterilizations, Contemporary Accusations, And Biopolitical Statecraft Obligations, In The Anthropology Of Obstetrics And Obstetricians: The Practice, Maintenance, And Reproduction Of A Biomedical Profession (Ed. Davis-Floyd, R. And Prekumar, A). Routledge: New York

Irons, R. 2022. Ceviche Revolution: Cholera, Microplastics, and (Re)Fashioning Identities in Postcolonial Peruvian Gastropolitics, Gastronomica 22(4): 10-19

Irons, R. 2022. ‘Aquí viene una Veneca más’: Venezuelan Migrants Negotiating Sexual & Reproductive Health, Violence, and Stigma in Peru, Anthropology & Medicine 29(3): 323-337

Irons, R. 2022. Virus amongst the Vegetables: Peruvian Marketplaces, Hygiene, and Post-colonial Indigeneity under Gender-Segregated Quarantine, European Journal of Women’s Studies 29(1): 125-265

Irons, R. & Gibbon, S. 2021. Consciously Quarantined: A Review of the Early Anthropological Response to the Global COVID-19 Lockdown, Anthropology & Medicine, 29(2): 223-236

Irons, R. 2021. Venezuelan Women’s perception of Sexual & Reproductive Health Services in Lima, Peru, Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Publica, 38(2): 248-53

Irons, R. 2021. Cancerous Contraceptives and the Incubation of Monsters: Quechua Reproductive Etiology and Producing Necro-Techno-Sapiens, In Birthing Techno-Sapiens: Human-Technology Co-Evolution and The Future of Reproduction. (Ed. Davis-Floyd, R. and Chalmers, B). Routledge: New York.

Irons, R. 2020. Pandemic...or syndemic? Re-framing COVID-19 Disease Burden and ‘Underlying health conditions, Social Anthropology, 28(2): 286-287

Irons, R. 2020. Colonial Wound, (Re)Infected: Pandemic in the Andes, Covid-19 Forum III, Somatosphere, May 2020                              

Irons, R. 2020. Post-Coital Pharmaceuticals and Abortion Ambiguity: Avoiding Unwanted Pregnancy using Emergency Contraception and Misoprostol in Lima, Peru, In Critical Medical Anthropology: Perspectives in/from Latin America. (Ed. Gamlin, J. Gibbon, S. Sesia, P. and Berrio, L.). UCL Press: London.

Irons, R. 2020. Religious Condemnation of the Emergency Contraceptive Pill as ‘Abortion’: Global and Local Perspectives on the Ongoing Controversy, In Mujeres, Aborto y Religiones: Debates Sobre Política Sexual, Subjetividades y Campo Religioso. Flora Tristán: Lima


Anthropological Perspectives on Global Health (GLBH0007)
Currently taught

Gender and Global Health (GLBH0038)
Currently taught