Please note that from February 2023-February 2024 I will be on research leave and not engaged in teaching duties.
As the University of Nottingham's first Professor of Health History, I am interested in the social and cultural histories of health and medicine post 1850. In the past my research focused upon the operation of western medicine in the British Empire (particularly in British East Africa), these days, however, I consider myself principally a historian of health in modern Britain. I am particularly interested in health consumerism: whether thinking about how British health & hygiene products were sold, to how unhealthy 'addictive' industries have come to sponsor elite sports.
Before I took up my position in September 2014 at the University of Nottingham, I had previously worked for four years as 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. In China, 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 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 earlier degrees are from UCL and Cambridge.
I have written, several books and articles on elements of modern health history: Practising Colonial Medicine (I.B. Tauris, 2007) looked at European Doctors working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania; 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. My co-authored book Florence Nightingale at Home (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) won the National People's Book Prize, 'Best Achievement', 2021-22. In 2023 I published a health humanities guide on how to use history for better health outcomes: Arts for Health: History (Emerald Books, 2023).
I have led several major grants as either PI or CI. Currently I am Principal Investigator (PI) on a large AHRC Standard Grant: 'Chemists to the Nation, Pharmacy to the World': Exploring the Global Dimensions of British Healthcare and Beauty with Boots the Chemists, 1919-1980' (2021-2025). I am also PI on a £1.6m Wellcome Trust Discovery Award: 'Kicking the Habit: Kicking the Habit: Historicising 'Addictive' Sport Sponsorship in Britain, 1965-2025' (1 September 2024-31 August 2030).
I work closely in the Health Humanities, particularly promoting the role of history in health and well being. I am a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and A Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
I am interested in a variety of aspects of the history of modern medicine, but particularly British and global histories of health and hygiene commodities. In the past I have worked on the history of western medicine in the British Empire- particularly, but not exclusively: histories of doctors in East Africa and European responses to tropical climates and landscapes. I am also keenly interested in the history of drugs and pharmaceuticals, the history of health and medical sourcing, marketing and retail, particularly the history of Boots the Chemists.
Relating to my interest in health consumerism, my next historical project will be on the 'unhealthy' sponsorship of sports by alcohol, tobacco, and betting companies.
I am very happy to accept research students in any of these fields and, indeed, in any aspect of the history of modern medicine post 1850, or the social and cultural history of Empire, or within the Medical Humanities or Health Humanities more broadly defined.
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
My current research Projects:
(1 October 2021-30 September 2025)
AHRC Standard Research Grant (AH/T008741/1) Principal Investigator [Dr Richard Hornsey, CI] 'Chemists to the Nation, Pharmacy to the World': Exploring the Global Dimensions of British Healthcare and Beauty with Boots the Chemists, 1919-1980'.
Wellcome Trust Discovery Award (227393/Z/23/Z), £1.6 million, Principal Investigator [Dr Alex Mold, LSHTM, CI, Prof Heather Wardle, University of Glasgow, CI] 'Kicking the Habit: Historicising 'Addictive' Sport Sponsorship in Britain, 1965-2025' (1 September 2024-31 August 2030).
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).
I have experience on a number of funded research projects. For example:
1 August 2020-31 July 2021)
Wellcome Prime ISSF Principal Investigator, 'Tobacco, Public Health and Sponsorship: An Exploratory Case Study of John Player and Son and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club'.
(10 November 2019-10 August 2021)
AHRC GCRF Cultures, Behaviours and Histories of Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition call (AH/T00410X/1) Co-investigator [Professor Murray Lark, PI and Dr Alison Mohr, CI) 'Towards Transdisciplinary Understanding of Inherited Soil Surveys: an Exploratory Case Study in Zambia'.
(January 2018-September 2021)
AHRC Standard Research Grant (AH/R00014X/1), Co-investigator [Professor Paul Crawford, PI], 'Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020: an Historico-Literary Analysis of her Family Life'.