Biosociality, identity and risky subjectivity (2013-2017)

The research involved engaging in discussions with small groups of black women living in the Borough of Hackney, East London who were taking part in a breast awareness intervention designed by clinicians based at Homerton Hospital. The results from the study provided valuable insight into the women’s perceptions of their ‘at risk’ status, their embodied practices, and the contested nature of their construction as a biosocial community of black women.

Key publications

Brown, T., Dyck, I., Greenhough, B., Raven-Ellison, M., Ornstein, M., Duffy, S. (2019) “They say it’s more aggressive in black women”: Biosociality, breast cancer, and becoming a population “at risk”. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 44, 509-523.

Brown, T., Dyck, I., Greenhough, B., Raven-Ellison, M., Dembinsky, M., Ornstein, M., Duffy, S. (2017). Fear, family and the placing of emotion: Black women’s responses to a breast cancer awareness intervention. Social Science and Medicine 195, 90-96.

Global public health, food and nutrition security (since 2017)

I have been working in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Geography, at Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute, and the Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research, Harare since 2017. The research projects we are working on are primarily centred on improving nutrition and early childhood development amongst children living in Harare’s urban and suburban areas as well as in Shurugwi District, in Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province. The projects have been funded through the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund and more recently by the NIHR Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) programme.

Tackling Kufungisisa: A rural Friendship Bench Intervention (2017-19)

Research by Zvitambo identified a prevalence rate of almost 10% for common mental disorders among women living in the rural areas of Shurugwi District, Zimbabwe. As part of a range of pilot interventions targeted at improving healthy childhood development, we trialed and evaluated the Friendship Bench model of problem-solving therapy. The project considered whether engaging in individual and group therapy would improve the women’s mental health group as well as positively impact on their children’s wellbeing. Papers from this project are currently undergoing peer review and will be available later this year.

HOPE-SAM: Improving post-discharge recovery from SAM (2017-2021)

Working in close collaboration with researchers based at Zvitambo and the University of Zimbabwe, we utilized participatory assessment methods to establish a better understanding of the interaction between the caring environment and children’s recovery from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) following hospital discharge. Initial research findings fed into the development of a range of household-level interventions intended to support parents and care-givers and follow-up research is currently underway. Results from the pilot research will be submitted for publication later in 2021 and from the follow-up research in 2022.

CHAIN / Building better partnerships (2019-2022)

Since 2019 research has been underway in Shurugwi District, situated in Zimbabwe’s Midlands Province, as a part of the Child Health, Agriculture and Integrated Nutrition (CHAIN) project. Funded by the BBSRC, the project is a combined dietary and agricultural intervention targeting key nutrition gaps experienced by children in the early years of development. Infants enrolled on the project will receive additional foods that are nutrient rich, culturally acceptable, and locally sustainable. Delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, field research, including a social science evaluation, is currently ongoing and results will be reported in 2022.

‘Building better partnerships’ is a recently completed study that aims to develop multi-disciplinary and cross-institutional perspectives relating to two closely interconnected dimensions of food and nutrition security: firstly, regarding the role played by population mobility and migration, especially with regards to the influence of cash and in-kind remittances; and, secondly the impact of changing food cultures. The ambition for the project is to generate future research directions through participatory workshops with a range of stakeholders and field research in Shurugwi District and with the Zimbabwean diaspora in the UK. For updates and further details, please visit the dedicated project website.

You can find out more about my research and academic publications at my university homepage or via ResearchGate.