Princess Banda

princess banda

DPhil Student

Keble College

Thesis: How Did We Get Here? A Critical Exploration of the Evolving Biopolitics of the Gendered Anti-Blackness Behind England's Black Maternal Health Crisis(working title)

Research: My research interests lie within socio-medical anthropology, with a specific focus on critical anthropologies of race and gendered racism in the context of the UK. In this, I interrogate and explore a range of themes; from biopolitics, embodiment, biopsychosociality, and health justice to intergenerational trauma, slow violence, life course theories, and theory as praxis. 

My thesis brings these research interests together, situating them within the area of maternal health. In sum, my thesis is a project on Black women, health disparities, the politics of health, and anthropologies of racialised risk within the context of, what Black professional and lay women alike, have dubbed as the 'Black maternal health crisis'. Black women in the UK have been found to be 4-5x more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth, or 6-months postpartum, as well as being between 80%-83% more likely to experience a ‘near miss’ of maternal death (as per the MBRRACE reports of Oxford’s NPEU, 2018-2021). So far, research and discourse have mostly been quantitative, only providing insight into what is occurring but not why, despite Black women self-identifying systemic racism and biomedical ideas of Black biological essentialism (regarding their pain tolerance, for example) as the most significant reasons for their risk and disparity. Therefore, my thesis aims to contribute knowledge of- and language for- the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ by employing Black feminist social and medical anthropologies of health, biomedicine, bodies, gendered racism, and reproductive justice. Through employing qualitative, narrative-based, ‘decolonised’ methods, I hope to bring Black women’s intergenerational experiences of maternal health in England’s public health system to the forefront of discussions, framing them with a critical, historical, and anthropological language which can be utilised by both lay and professional individuals to better understand, explain, and address the Black maternal health crisis.