Challenging biological essentialism: embodied histories and health inequities – public lecture

Date: 9 June 2017
Time: 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Cost: Free

An evening lecture by Professor Nancy Krieger of Harvard University to celebrate the launch of the Bristol Population Health Science Institute.

A lurking biological essentialism infuses contemporary research on ‘health disparities’. Mindful of the long reach of early 20th century mainstream eugenics, biological sexism, and the long shadow of Jim Crow, Professor Nancy Krieger will discuss how the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) presents health disparities in its strategic documents and its new mandate to account for sex, but not also gender, in all studies, and also how official documents mention ‘race’ but avoid discussing racism.

To challenge biological essentialism, she draws on ecosocial theory to present an alternative approach that conceptualizes health inequities as embodied history, using examples from trends in US mortality, police violence, and breast cancer, including in relation to Jim Crow.

About Nancy Krieger

Nancy Krieger is Professor of Social Epidemiology and American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Director of the HSPH Interdisciplinary Concentration on Women, Gender, and Health. She is an internationally recognised social epidemiologist, with a background in biochemistry, philosophy of science, and history of public health, plus more than 30 years of activism involving social justice, science, and health.

Bristol Population Health Science Institute

Bristol Population Health Science Institute is a new centre that builds on Bristol’s internationally-leading reputation for research in the determinants and consequences of ill-health.

Their research ranges from basic discovery science in molecular and genetic epidemiology to innovative clinical trials and policy-influencing and assessment activities. Their multi-disciplinary community spans across several schools and faculties in the university and tackles a wide range of questions about health and health care.

Joining instructions

Registration opens at 5pm.
Event address: Arnolfini
16 Narrow Quay
Contact information: Email:
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