Seminar: Dr Roberta Bivins, University of Warwick: Contagious Communities - Medicine, Migration and the NHS in Post-War Britain
A seminar with Dr Roberta Bivins of Warwick, and a member of CHM's academic staff, based on her recently-published book.
Contagious Communities examines the congested intersection of migration, medicine, and policy in post-war Britain. Inevitably, then, it also explores the history of the National Health Service and of UK national citizenship, both of which emerged and were repeatedly re-shaped by ‘crises’ of one kind or another. Here I will sketch the findings of the book, and discuss a few of the trends to emerge from my research, around understandings of race, entitlement, belonging, and Britishness in the era of the Welfare State. Yet for all the changes that mark this period, many of the themes and tropes I have traced between 1948 and 1988 resonate loudly with current events. So what does it mean to map this history at this moment, in this ‘immigration crisis’ and with the NHS apparently (again) at breaking point? Can history – can historians – speak productively to the present, and if so, in what register?