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ePortfolio of Samir Hamdoud

I am a 4th year PhD student in the Department of History, funded by a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship. My project is entitled 'Caring Power, Scientific Medicine and Mental Deficiency at The Royal Albert, 1870 – 1920’. My research examines the social and medical history of children’s care and childhood mental disability, using the Royal Albert Institution as a case study. By the turn of the twentieth century, this establishment was one of the largest institutions in the UK devoted to the care and treatment of children deemed ‘idiots’ and ‘imbeciles’. The PhD documents the evolution the Royal Albert from 1870 to 1920, providing a broad chronological overview of its development and contribution to wider debates about childhood and disability. It considers how the Royal Albert emerged within a network of state and voluntary aided institutions which operated in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. These organisations contributed to helping care for and treat children who were deemed unable to live in their families.

It also focuses on recapturing some of the stories of the children who called the Royal Albert their home, the professionals who lived and worked there, and the place of the institution in the local community and national life more generally. It considers how views of children's bodies and minds changed and how these changes affected the way children were perceived and treated. It examines how asylums functioned as sites of research, as well as places of accommodation, and how developments in psychiatric medicine were linked to the intimate praxis of institutional life. It also looks at the role of the family, medical professionals and civil servants in placing children at the Royal Albert and draws connections between this and more contemporary developments in children's social and health care.

My research project is jointly supervised by Professor Hilary Marland and Dr Claire Shaw.

Conference Papers and Research Seminars:

  • March 2022 - 'Reflecting on an emotional experience of researching young people’s bodily encounters with asylum medicine and education in the archives of the Royal Albert Institution, 1870 – 1920', Centre for the History of Childhood Seminar, University of Oxford
  • July 2021 - 'Embodying Emotions, Visualising Minds: Children, Medicine and Care at the Royal Albert', The Social History Society Annual Conference, Lancaster University (virtual due to COVID 19)
  • June 2021 - 'Children at The Royal Albert: Care, Life and Death in Victorian and Edwardian Britain', Children and Youth Speaking Up, Children's History Society Annual Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University (virtual due to COVID 19). Paper also read at the online conference of the Society for the History of Children and Youth, University of Ireland, Galway.
  • May 2021 - 'Care, Life and Death at the Royal Albert, 1870-1920', Post-Graduate History Conference, University of Warwick (virtual)
  • May 2021 - 'Transforming Children's Bodies: Anatomical Science and Physiological Education at the Royal Albert Institution, 1870 - 1920', Remains of the Body Conference, University of Warwick (virtual due to COVID 19)
  • March 2021 - 'Creating Biologically Responsible Parents of the Future: Eugenics, Sex and Education in Twentieth Century Britain', 23rd Conference of the Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science, Emory University (virtual due to COVID 19)
  • March 2021 - '"Discovering" the Mentally Deficient Child: Practices of Science at the Royal Albert Institution in Late Victorian Britain', Nineteenth Century Studies Association Conference (virtual due to COVID 19)
  • December 2020 - 'Dr George E. Shuttleworth and the Imagining of Childhood Idiocy in Victorian and Edwardian Britain', American Association for the History of Medicine Annual Conference, Ann Arbor University of Michigan (virtual due to COVID 19)
  • April 2020 - 'Dr George E. Shuttleworth's Expert "Persona" and the Representation of Childhood Idiocy', Nineteenth Century Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh (cancelled due to COVID 19)
  • February 2020 - 'Post-Mortems, Anatomical Science and Young People at the Royal Albert, 1871 - 1890', Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.
  • November 2019 - 'Education for Parenthood and the Rational Reproduction of Eugenic Feminism in Early Twentieth Century Britain', Education and the Life Course: History of Education Annual Conference, UCL.

Awards and Funding

Wellcome Trust Humanities Doctoral Studentship

MSc Dissertation Prize, Imperial College London

Hans Rausing Scholarship, Imperial College London

Award for 1st Class Honours, Wadham College, University of Oxford


  • 2018 - 2022, PhD History, University of Warwick
  • 2014 - 2016, MSc Social Work: Research, Policy and Practice, University of Bedfordshire (Frontline Programme), Commendation
  • 2012 - 2013, MSc History of Science, Medicine and Technology, Imperial College London, Distinction
  • 2008 - 2011, BA History, University of Oxford, 1st Class

Other Experience

  • Child Protection Social Worker, London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Southwark
  • Education Graduate Worker, IntoUniversity

Research Interests

  • Contemporary child protection practices and theories, including Signs of Safety
  • History of medical education
  • Eugenics in Britain, including ideas of rational reproduction
  • The history of marginalised experiences of childhood
  • Mental and physical disabilities
  • The social epistemology of scientific knowledge and representation in scientific practice
  • Medical ethics and participatory forms of political and social action as these intersect with activities of the state (including child welfare policies and education).

Samir Hamdoud