In January 2024, Michael Bresalier (Department of History, Heritage, and Classics in the Faculty of Humanities and Social History) joins a six-year, £2.8million Wellcome Trust-funded project on ‘Epistemic Injustice in Healthcare’ (EPIC). Lead by Havi Carel (Bristol), EPIC is a partnership between philosophers, psychologists, social scientists and historians at Bristol, Nottingham, Birmingham, and the universities of Ferrara and Bologna, who will study ways in which disparities in healthcare knowledge affect health experiences, wellbeing, and outcomes. The concept of epistemic injustice (EI) has been developed and used to identify wrongs done to people (or social groups) in their capacity as knowers. Epistemic injustice in healthcare examines asymmetries and injustice in ways of conceiving of illness, treating ill persons or communities, and allocating healthcare, paying particular attention to how and why patient’s testimonies or interpretations are ignored, denigrated, or excluded in medical decision-making and policy.
Michael’s case study examines the development, implementation and impacts of ‘selective’ tuberculosis vaccination programmes targeted for migrant, immigrant and ethnic minority populations coming to or living within Britain since the 1960s. Through combination of archival, policy and oral history research, the study will trace how, and with what consequences, selective vaccination has been framed, understood, and experienced by medical practitioners, vaccine service providers, and im/migrant parents, children, and communities in different parts of the country. In developing a long-term perspective on the ways in which uncertainties and perceived or identified injustices associated with selective tuberculosis vaccination have been negotiated and addressed, the study aims to better understand the roots and nature of the broader phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy in Britain.