Photo of Yolana Pringle
20152020

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Personal profile

Biography

I am a historian of medicine and global health. I have research interests in the history of psychiatry in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO), and humanitarian organisations. I hold a DPhil in Modern History from the University of Oxford, in which I specialised in the history of psychiatry and mental healthcare in Uganda. Before joining Roehampton in September 2017, I was a Teaching Fellow in African History at the University of Warwick and a Mellon-Newton Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. I have worked as a research consultant on projects within the fields of international development (health) and African history and politics, including a high-profile High Court reparations case brought against the British Government by veterans of Kenya's Mau Mau rebellion.

Qualifications

BA (Hons) History, 1st class, University of Durham, 2006

MA History, Distinction, Cardiff University, 2007

DPhil Modern History, University of Oxford, 2013

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

Research interests

Psychiatry and Decolonisation

My first book, Psychiatry and Decolonisation in Uganda (2019), investigates psychiatry in Uganda during the years of decolonisation. Based on my doctoral research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, it examines the challenges facing a new generation of psychiatrists as they took over responsibility for psychiatry at the end of empire, and explores the ways psychiatric practices were tied to shifting political and development priorities, periods of instability, and a broader context of transnational and international exchange. At its heart is a question that has concerned psychiatrists globally since the mid-twentieth century: how to bridge the social and cultural gap between psychiatry and its patients? Bringing together archival research with oral histories, I trace how this question came to dominate both national and international discussions on mental health care reform, including at the World Health Organization, and helped spur a culture of experimentation and creativity globally. As my research shows, however, the history of psychiatry during the years of decolonisation remained one of marginality, and ultimately, in the context of war and violence, the decolonisation of psychiatry was incomplete.

Violence and Health

My current research, funding by a H.F. Guggenheim research grant, seeks to understand how and why the mental health effects of political violence has become an international priority, and considers the implications. Examining the origins, development, and impact of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) in select African contexts between the 1970s and the 1990s, it asks how approaching political violence as an issue of mental health changed understandings of, and responses to violent behaviour. It interrogates the extent to which MHPSS represented a medicalisation of inherently social and political problems, and how the practical realities of research and practice shaped ideas about who was ‘vulnerable’, ‘dangerous’, or ‘traumatised’, and in need of intervention. The project is part of a longer term research agenda that seeks to understand how and why violence became a global public health issue in the late twentieth century.

Race and Humanitarian Intervention

A side interest of my research in recent years has been the ways that race shaped humanitarian action (or the lack of it) in the past. During my postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge, I explored the attitudes of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) towards Africa between the 1950s and 1980s. I was, and remain interested in how changing ideas about violence and race shaped decisions to intervene in colonial counter-insurgency operations, and debates about the suitability of Africa as a location for humanitarian action.

Teaching

In the 2020-21 academic year, I am teaching on the following modules:

  • Community and Identity in Global Perspective (1st-year undergraduate)
  • Rebellion and Resistance in Modern African History (3rd-year undergraduate)
  • Advanced Research Methods (MA level)

 In future years, I may also offer:

  • Race and Empire (2nd-year undergraduate optional module)

I welcome enquiries from anyone considering an MA or PhD in areas related to my research interests, which are, broadly:

  • the history of psychiatry and mental health
  • the history of global health, including humanitarianism and health and the World Health Organization
  • African history (especially East Africa)

I currently supervise:

  • 'Exploring the History of Black Women's Mental Health Organizing in Britain, 1970s-present day' (TECHNE-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award, in collaboration with the Black Cultural Archives, Brixton) [October 2020-]

External positions

Co-Convenor, History UK

1 Sep 2020 → …

Steering Committee member, History UK

Oct 2019 → …

Network

Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.
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