Department of History

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Anna Greenwood

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts



I am a social and cultural historian of the British Empire, with a particular interest in medical history. Before I took up my position in September 2014 at the University of Nottingham, I had previously worked for 4 years an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo China (2010-14). I am happy therefore to advise students who are thinking about spending some of their time on the Nottingham Ningbo campus. I had many wonderful experiences in China, where I served as Acting Head of Department, Deputy Head of Department and Director of Teaching in the School of International Studies. Prior to moving to Ningbo, I held held Assistant Professorial positions at the University of Exeter (2009-10) and the University of Strathclyde (2005-9). I also have held part time teaching and research positions at University College London, where I took my PhD, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

My passion is medical history and I have published widely on the history of colonial medicine in East Africa. My first book, Practising Colonial Medicine (I.B. Tauris, 2007) looked at European Doctors working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, while my next book, Indian Doctors in Kenya: The Forgotten Story, 1895-1940 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, paperback 2017) with Harshad Topiwala moved my focus to the careers of private and governmental Indian doctors in Kenya. Whilst still retaining my interests in colonialism, I have recently moved my medical historical interests to archives closer to home. Between 2016-2017 I worked on a Wellcome Trust funded project on the colonial history of the famous local chemists Boots. From January 2018 I will additionally be working on the East Midlands influences on the international career of Florence Nightingale via a AHRC standard grant (2018-2021) titled 'Nightingale Comes Home for 2020'. Looking at Boots and Nightingale allows me to examine the way local history feeds into international projects and ideas, as well as showing the way broader concerns framed local developments and mindsets. In all of my recent work, I have been interested with working with colleagues outside of history (for example, in business studies, health sciences and advertising), as a means of enhancing new interpretations of historical themes and events.

I am co-director (with Professor Paul Crawford) of Health Humanities at Nottingham as well School Research Director for the School of Humanities. In these roles I am deeply involved with promoting the benefits of historical perspectives in non-historical fields.

Born in London, I have lived in many countries and travelled extensively. For fun, I love the history of art and photography and try to regularly swim and practice yoga.

Expertise Summary

I am interested in a variety of aspects of the history of modern medicine and the history of the British Empire- particularly, but not exclusively: history of Western medicine in East Africa, histories of Indian Diaspora to Kenya, histories of doctors throughout the British Empire and European responses to the tropical world. I am also keenly interested in all aspects of local medical history, particularly the history of Boots the chemists and the, little known, history of Florence Nightingale in the East Midlands. As such, in the past two years I have become increasingly interested in the interface between the local and the global and the movement of ideas and practices between these two spheres.

I am very happy to accept research students in any of these fields and, indeed, in any aspect of the history of modern medicine, or the social and cultural history of Empire, or within the Medical Humanities or Health Humanities more broadly defined.

Teaching Summary

I have won awards for my teaching and enjoy interacting with students very much. I currently teach a third year Special Subject, Disease and Domination: The History of Medicine and the Colonial… read more

Research Summary

My current research has two main strands. I am finishing the publications for a Wellcome Seed Award on an international history of Boots the Chemists (2016-2017) and I am CI on a Standard Research… read more

Recent Publications

I have won awards for my teaching and enjoy interacting with students very much. I currently teach a third year Special Subject, Disease and Domination: The History of Medicine and the Colonial Encounter and a third year option, The Agony and the Ecstasy: Drugs for Pleasure and Pain in the History of Medicine. Additionally, I convene and teach an MA module: Empires and Imperialisms. I also give guest lectures and some seminars on the year one module, Learning History. I additionally contribute to Roads to Modernity in the second semester.

In the past I have taught many diverse modules, from the history of medicine in the media, to medicine and literature, the history of capitalism and the history of narcotics. I also have convened several broad survey modules in the history of the British Empire and the history of medicine.

Current Research

My current research has two main strands. I am finishing the publications for a Wellcome Seed Award on an international history of Boots the Chemists (2016-2017) and I am CI on a Standard Research Grant for the AHRC 'Nightingale comes home for 2020: a historico-linguistic analysis of her family life' (2018-2021). Both projects examine the way a local concern, or personality, interacted with the broader global world. The Nightingale project runs to coincide with the 2020 celebrations arranged for the bicentennial of her birth in London and has a large suite of engagement activities with partners including the British Library, Derbyshire Florence Nightingale Association, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Derby Cathedral, The Florence Nightingale Foundation London and Derbyshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

I still retain my interest in the history of the Indian community in in Colonial Kenya. Previously diaspora histories have primarily concentrated on the movement of Indian indentured labourers, but my interest has broadened this field to look at the important group of Indian professionals who came to work in East Africa. As a medical historian, my focus has primarily been on the careers and experiences of Indian doctors. My 2015 book with Harshad Topiwala examined both government and private practitioners working in colonial Kenya before 1940 and, as such, provides the only history of this important group. This is a large omission in the history of colonial medicine, which has previously sought to look at both the European doctors and the African healthcare assistants, but has omitted to look at this large group of Indian 'middle men'. This is despite the fact that, before 1923, they made up nearly two thirds of the government medical workers.

Past Research

Previously I have written about the history of British doctors in colonial East Africa, psychiatric interpretations of European behaviour in the tropics, recruitment to the Colonial Medical Service, medical theories of tropical life and the theoretical uses of history in other social science disciplines (particularly within Organisational Studies).

Future Research

In the future there are several areas that I am interested in examining. As a social and cultural historian, I am keen to expand my new interest in business history to also look at the treasures of the Unilever archive in Port Sunlight Liverpool. In this regard, the operations of the United Africa Company are of particular interest. I am also keen to extend my knowledge about the Indian community in colonial Kenya and have a couple of projects in mind within this realm. First, I hope to look at the Indian healthcare crisis that occurred along the Uganda Railway construction, and second I am interested in the life and beliefs of Desai, a prominent campaigner for Indian rights in Kenya.

  • ANNA GREENWOOD and HILARY INGRAM, 2018. ‘“The People’s Chemists”: The Walgreen Boots Alliance Archive’ Social History of Medicine. 31(4), 857-869
  • PAUL CRAWFORD and ANNA GREENWOOD, 2018. Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020. In: CHRIS WRIGLEY, ed., The Changing Lives of Working People During the Industrial Revolution: The Derwent Valley and Beyond The Arkwright Society.
  • ANNA GREENWOOD, ed., 2016. Beyond the State: The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa Manchester University Press.
  • ANNA GREENWOOD, 2016. Introduction. In: Beyond the State: The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa Manchester University Press.
  • ANNA GREENWOOD, 2016. The Colonial Medical Service and the Struggle for Control of the Zanzibar Maternity Association, 1918-1947. In: Beyond the State: The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa
  • ANNA GREENWOOD AND HARSHAD TOPIWALA, 2016. The Maintenance of Hegemony: the Short History of Indian Doctors in the Colonial Medical Service, British East Africa. In: Beyond the State: The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa Manchester University Press.
  • ANNA GREENWOOD AND HARSHAD TOPIWALA, 2015. Indian Doctors in Kenya, 1895-1940: The Forgotten History Palgrave Macmillan.
  • ANNA GREENWOOD AND ANDREA BERNARDI, 2015. The Usefulness of a Historical Comparative Perspective: The Rural Co-Operative Medical System in China. In: MICHIE AND ROWLEY, ed., Mutuals and Cooperatives in the Asia Pacific Region Routledge. (In Press.)
  • ANNA GREENWOOD AND ANDREA BERNARDI, 2014. Understanding the Rift: The (Still) Uneasy Bedfellows of History and Organization Studies Organisation. 21(6), 907-932
  • ANNA GREENWOOD AND ANDREA BERNARDI, 2014. Old and new Rural Co-operative Medical Scheme in China: the usefulness of a historical comparative perspective Asia Pacific Business Review. 20(3), 356-378
  • ANNA GREENWOOD AND ANDREA BERNARDI, 2014. The Cooperative Firm: a Non-capitalist Model for the Occupy Movement’. In: LUKASZ MAMICA AND PASQUALE TRIDICO, ed., Economic Policy in Time of Crisis Routledge. 241-59
  • ANNA GREENWOOD, 2011. A Short History of Tropical Neurasthenia The Psychologist Magazine.
  • ANNA CROZIER (NOW GREENWOOD), 2010. Diseased Bodies in the Modern World. In: IVAN CROZIER, ed., Cultural History of the Human Body VI. Bloomsbury. 93-108
  • ANNA CROZIER (NOW GREENWOOD), 2009. What was Tropical about Tropical Neurasthenia? The Utility of the Diagnosis in the Management of Empire’ Journal for the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 64(4), 518-548
  • ANNA CROZIER (NOW GREENWOOD), 2007. Sensationalising Africa: British Medical Impressions of Sub-Saharan Africa 1890-1939 Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. 35(3), 393–415
  • ANNA CROZIER (NOW GREENWOOD), 2007. Practising Colonial Medicine: the Colonial Medical Service in East Africa I.B. Tauris.
  • ANNA CROZIER (NOW GREENWOOD), 2006. 5 biographical entries: Albert Cook, Anne Spoerry, Cecily Williams, Edward Kasili, Adrien Atiman in W.F. Bynum and H. Bynum (eds.), Dictionary of Medical Biography Greenwood Press.
  • ANNA CROZIER (NOW GREENWOOD), 2003. Author of numerous commentaries, Medicine and Literature, CD-ROM collated Janet Browne
  • ANNA GREENWOOD, 1998. Lawson Tait and Opposition to Germ Theory: Defining Science in Surgical Practice Journal for the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 53, 99-131

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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