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Dr Grace Redhead will join History as an ESRC Research Fellow on 1 October 2020, her research explores identity, citizenship and sickle cell anaemia in the postcolonial NHS

New research to explore identity, citizenship and sickle cell anaemia in the postcolonial NHS

The relationships between postwar immigration, sickle cell disease and ideas of belonging and citizenship in Britain, lies at the heart of a new research project in the Department of History.

As a hereditary illness, a diagnosis of sickle cell disease (SCD) had a particular meaning in post-war Britain, where most SCD patients are of Caribbean or West African ancestry.

A poorly-understood illness with under-resourced services, SCD became symbolic of black communities’ fight for equal welfare entitlement in the 1970s and 80s. The diagnosis could also disrupt - or become incorporated into – patients’ conceptions of family history and memories of migration.

Building on the work of her PhD, Dr Grace Redhead will explore the history of sickle cell disease in postwar Britain.

The research project will critically reframe two research questions at the heart of her PhD:

· How did institutional racism function in the post-war NHS, and how was this challenged?

· What effect did this institutional racism have on patients with SCD, and how did they construct notions of identity, citizenship and belonging in response?  

Through her research, she will capture varied experiences of SCD and healthcare across Britain, where services have evolved in a patchwork, ad-hoc fashion.

Dr Redhead aims to disseminate her research findings to audiences in academia and beyond, across mediums including a book, conferences, blogs and workshops with sickle cell support groups.