Professor Clare Anderson

Clare Anderson, Professor of History, is editor of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. She is currently directing a project exploring mental health and addiction in the jails of British Guiana, and the aftermaths of colonial penal practices in the present day.

Since modern jail-building programmes began at the start of the 19th century, prison administrators across the world have faced the problem of how to manage outbreaks of infectious disease. As has become evident during the Covid-19 pandemic, jails are environments in which infectious diseases can be easily spread. This is especially the case in overcrowded conditions where prisoners share accommodation and washing and toilet facilities.

History shows how prison officers and inmates coped with epidemics, bringing to light change and continuity of health practice. Nowhere is this more relevant than the study of outbreaks of cholera in Britain, Ireland and the British Empire, and the Spanish flu pandemic in the prisons of British Guiana during 1918-19.

This project is part of the University of Leicester’s portfolio of Global Challenges Research Fund projects, carrying out cutting-edge research in partnership with local universities, policymakers and communities that addresses the challenges faced by countries experiencing chronic disadvantage.