Histories of sickle cell anaemia, race and health in postcolonial Britain, 1950-1995

Year of award: 2015


  • Grace Redhead    

    University College London

Project summary

Following an extensive historiographical survey and archival research, my thesis will set out the historiographical and historical context of sickle cell anaemia (SCA), race and health in postcolonial Britain.

I will deal with the genetic research undertaken on sickle cell anaemia by British scientists such as JBS Haldane and Antony Allison, examining their papers and others from the UCL Special Collections. I will explore the experience of SCA patients and activists as they lobbied the state and health service using archives from the Runnymede Trust and Black Cultural Archive, as well as oral histories. I will also explore the activities and training healthcare professionals undertook to understand the disease, examining journal articles, training films and awareness programmes held in archives such as the Wellcome Collection and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I will examine government provision and policy for the treatment of SCA, investigating Commons debates in Hansard, financial reports and policy development. I will place the disease in its context of the politicised issue of immigration.