SOAS Anthropology Department Seminar Series - Suad Duale, Ella Hubbard, Nikita Simpson, and Elizabeth Storer

Key information

3:15 pm to 5:00 pm
Brunei Gallery SOAS
Room B103, Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ
Event type
Seminar series

About this event

The SOAS Anthropology Department welcomes Suad Duale, Ella Hubbard, Nikita Simpson and Elizabeth Storer for their talk A Hostile Environment: Mould, Race, and Corporeal Punishment in Birmingham.

The UK Government Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy is a set of administrative and legislative measures aimed at making it difficult for migrants to stay in Britain. Over more than a decade, this approach has combined securitised practices of bordering and policing, with policies which have defunded and hollowed out health and social care provisioning at community level.

This paper draws attention to the materiality of this hostile environment as it is experienced in the mouldy and damp homes of Somali families who inhabit temporary or precarious accommodation in Birmingham.  Drawing on interdisciplinary (clinical, geographic, psychological, and ethnographic) fieldwork, we reveal how Somali families experiencing ‘homelessness’ are placed, by local authorities, in overcrowded, private and temporary accommodations of varying states of disrepair.

When these houses, hotels, or hostels begin to make them sick, blame is apportioned to their quotidian acts of care and homemaking such that they encounter mould as a form of corporeal punishment for seeking state resources. Through a bio-social-structural investigation, we argue that mould and the illnesses that accompany its bodily interactions cannot solely be understood as an artefact of austerity policies. Instead, attention to mould renders visible the embodied processes of racialised blame that are embedded within hostile environment policies.

About the speakers

Suad Duale is a psychotherapist and community activist from Birmingham’s Somali community, and a PhD Candidate at Wolverhampton University in Counselling Psychology. 

Ella Hubbard is a clinical doctor, currently practising emergency and general medicine in London. 

Nikita Simpson is a Lecturer in Anthropology at SOAS, where she researches mental and embodied distress and inequality in India and the UK. 

Elizabeth Storer is Lecturer in Geography at Queen Mary University, where she researches the relationship between structural exclusion and ill-health, mainly in Uganda and the UK.


If you have any questions, please contact Alice Rudge (

Please note, the event will not be recorded.

Photo credit: Bekky Bekks via Unsplash