PhD Studentship: Histories of sexual health in London’s East End
Call for applications
The Institute of Applied Health Research (University of Birmingham) has partnered with the Centre for the History of Medicine (University of Warwick) and Barts Health NHS Trust Archives and Museums to secure a fully funded Midlands4Cities PhD studentship. Using the rich archival collections of the Whitechapel Venereal Disease Clinic, this four-year studentship will be a granular study of sexual-health experiences and outcomes among marginalised and minoritised communities in London’s East End from the interwar years to the beginning of the AIDS crisis.
The deadline for applications is 11 January 2023. The successful candidate will be expected to begin the studentship in October 2023.
The twentieth century witnessed enormous changes in medical knowledge, public attitudes, policymaking and infrastructure for sexual health. But the personal, lived experiences of sexual health, especially among marginalised and minoritised communities in the decades before the AIDS crisis, are largely missing from the archives to which historians have hitherto had access. As such, these personal experiences have not yet received the scholarly attention they deserve.
Established in 1929, the Whitechapel VD Clinic was among the most significant sites in the nationwide Venereal Disease Service. Its archives contain approximately 12,000 items and are unique among surviving sexual-health archives in their scope and completeness. Importantly, the collection also reflects the long historical trajectory of medical and social beliefs linking migrants and minoritised populations with the spread of STIs. The bedrock of the student’s archival research will be the Whitechapel Clinic archives. For comparison and context, they will also draw on archives from central government and local authorities across the UK. And they will undertake oral histories with people who accessed or staffed sexual-health services in London’s East End.
The student will be supervised by Dr Anne Hanley (Birmingham), Professor Roberta Bivins (Warwick) and Kate Jarman and Ginny Dawe-Woodings (Barts Health). They will receive a programme of tailored training that addresses the practical and ethical challenges of working with highly sensitive records. In year 4 of the PhD, they will draw on these skills as part of a formal placement (approximately 6 hours a week for 10 weeks) with Barts Health. During this placement, they will consult on the development of a major funding bid that would enable Barts Health to complete the digitisation of the Whitechapel Clinic archives. This collaboration will offer the student new insights into their own research while also helping them to develop grant-capture skills and gain valuable experience of collaborative project planning and development that will support their future career. They will also receive training to collect, transcribe and analyse oral histories. And they will have access to training and resources to support their public-engagement work.
This project is embedded within the medical humanities and committed to using history to respond to today’s health challenges. In the Institute of Applied Health Research they will be supported by Hanley’s UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, Histories of Sexual Health in Britain, 1918–1980, as well as a multidisciplinary community of researchers specialising in sexual and reproductive health. As a member of this research community, the student will build links with staff delivering sexual healthcare through University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. This will complement links that they will also build with staff delivering Barts Health NHS Trust’s sexual-health services. With links to two of England’s largest NHS Trusts, the student will gain an understanding of contemporary sexual-health challenges and priorities, contextualise their work in modern-day provisions and develop policy relevance for their historical research.
Follow this link for more information about the project or contact Dr Anne Hanley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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