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As spaces, the Library, the Archive and the Museum have all played a significant part in the construction and contestation of biologically determined, medicalised ideas concerning race and health. In the fifth session of our seminar series on ‘Spaces of Sickness and Wellbeing’, Ross MacFarlane (Wellcome Collection) brings together a panel of speakers to discuss how such historical issues and their ongoing legacies can be addressed through research and practice in these sectors. Short presentations from Subhadra Das (formerly UCL), Alinta Sara (Imperial College London, formerly the Sickle Cell Society) and Eoin O’Cearnaigh (Wellcome Collection) respectively discuss the place of eugenics at University College London, recent curatorial collaboration between the Sickle Cell Society and the Black Cultural Archives and the building history of Wellcome Collection.

Speakers bios

Subhadra Das is a historian, writer, broadcaster and comedian. For nine years, she was Curator of the Science Collections at University College London where she worked with the Eugenics and Pathology Collections, and the auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham. In 2021, she was a Researcher in Critical Eugenics at UCL’s Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism and Racialisation. She regularly talks to diverse audiences in classes, seminars, lectures, public talks and stand-up comedy about all aspects of her work from the history of eugenics and scientific racism to working with human remains. She uses historical archives and museum objects to tell decolonial stories in engaging and affirming ways

Alinta Sara is an art historian who studied at SOAS, University of London. She teaches in the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication at Imperial College London, and her current research on the Afro-Brazilian architectural heritage in the Bight of Benin reflects upon the link between collective memory, space and architecture. She also recently curated the exhibition ‘Our Journey Our Story: History and Memory of Sickle Cell Anaemia in Britain 1950-2020’ with the Sickle Cell Society at the Black Cultural Archives.

Eoin O’Cearnaigh
is a research development specialist at Wellcome Collection. His doctoral research at Goldsmiths, University of London, explored the politics of work through the history of industrial unrest at the Ford Motor Company in Britain. His current research interests span twentieth-century radical science movements and the history of scientific racism, as well as questions concerning how to address the colonial legacies of the museum.

All welcome, this seminar is free to attend but booking is required.