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Dr Clare Herrick

Dr Clare Herrick

Clare HerrickReader

Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 1735 

Department of Geography
King's College London 
K7.39 King's Building 
Strand Campus 


Blog: Alcohol, Development and Poverty in South Africa



Clare Herrick earned a first class BA (Hons) in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 2002. She then completed her MA in Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2004 where her research focused on agricultural biotechnology, food politics and the construction of consumption risks.

In 2007, she completed her PhD at University College London comparing the rationale and means of governing obesity as both a biomedical and discursive epidemic in London and Austin, Texas. In September 2007, Clare took up the position of lecturer in Human Geography in the Cities Group at King's. In 2012, Clare was appointed Senior Lecturer in Human Geography. 

Research interests
  • health and wellbeing
  • consumption
  • lifestyle
  • political economy of behavioural risk
  • urban political ecology
  • critical global health
  • urban health

My research interests centre on the political economy of lifestyle, in the broad sense of health, illness and wellbeing and the ways in which the political drive towards personal optimization and self-regulation are conditioning their governance. Specifically, I have concentrated on exploring how political and rhetorical changes in the governance of health unfold in cities and the effects that these processes have on local urban spaces and their inhabitants. I have explored these ideas through a number of research projects. 

These include work on the emergence of obesity as an “epidemic” in the UK and US and the new kinds of urban politics that this has inspired both in London and Austin, Texas. I have also undertaken research (with funding from the RGS) to try and tease out some of the commonalities found in the governance of problematic, “risky” behaviours. With funding from the British Academy, I have examined how the increasingly prolific form of the mass, public running event has been used as a tool and vehicle to achieve not only a host of public policy goals, but also to catalyse an ethic of participation and, in the process, inspire new readings and uses of public space. The research used two case studies - the Great North Run held in Newcastle and the Great Ethiopia Run held in Addis Ababa - to explore some of these themes in two culturally and developmentally diverse settings. These strands of research have been brought together in a book entitled 'Be Sensible: Governing Consumption and Health' (Policy Press, 2011).

Over the past few years, I have turned to explore the nature and governance of health risks in cities of the South. An ESRC-DFID funded project explored the lived relationships between drinking and poverty in Cape Town, South Africa in partnership with Professor Sue Parnell at UCT. Drawing on four case study sites, the research used a critical analysis of South African drinking in order to explore broader issues relating to urban development strategies, visions of the 'good city' and the shifting relationship between urban and public health policies. Further details about the project and its outputs and impact are available online.  

More recently I have been working on the politics of Global Health, particularly as they pertain to the governance of behavioural risks for non-communicable diseases in cities of the global south. I have been exploring some of these ideas through a recent grant from the Wellcome Trust examining the effects of alcohol taxation on consumption practices and attitudes in the capital of Botswana, Gaborone. They are further brought out in an edited collection Global Health Geographies (Routledge) due for publication in 2016, with David Reubi in the Department of Social Science Health and Medicine and a series of planned activities in a newly-formed Critical Global Health network with scholars at UCSF. In 2016, Andrew Brooks and I will start a new research project exploring the intersections between global health and development in post-ebola Sierra Leone.


The 2008 Botswanan Alcohol Policy: Risk, Politics and Consumption

2014-2015 Wellcome Trust (£4,985)

This project builds on research currently being undertaken on the interrelationships between alcohol, poverty and development in South Africa and extends them to a new geographic and political context. It does this through an exploration of the context, implementation and impacts of the 2008 Botswanan Alcohol Policy, which imposed a 45% levy on all liquor. Drawing on interviews and survey data, the project will examine the act’s effect on the public’s perceptions of the health, economic and interpersonal risks of alcohol; attitudes towards alcohol control policies; and demand for alcohol. As more Southern countries implement alcohol control policies, this project offers much-needed evidence of the complex tensions between the state’s duty of care to mitigate alcohol-related harms and the use of alcohol as a source of income and pleasure amid challenging socio-economic and structural conditions.

Alcohol Control, Poverty and Development in South Africa

2010-2013 ESRC-DFID (£217,550)

with Professor Sue Parnell, University of Cape Town

The South African alcohol 'problem': governing complex vulnerabilities in Cape Town

2010-2011 British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (£5,000)

with Professor Sue Parnell, University of Cape Town

Mass running events and the city: participation, public health and urban somatic justice

2008 – 2009 British Academy Small Grant (£6,500)

Consumed by risk: building the qualitative and comparative links between obesity and alcohol research in health geography

2008 – 2009 Royal Geographical Society Small Grant and the Jasmine Leila Prize (£2,800)

Governing the “obesity epidemic”: putting preventative public health to work in London and Austin

2004-2007 ESRC - 3 year fully funded PhD studentship

PhD supervision

I welcome applications from prospective PhD applicants on the following topics: 

  • Health, consumption and lifestyles 
  • Cities and social change 
  • Health and medical geography 
  • Architecture and the built environment 
  • Development, global health and lifestyle diseases
PhD students
Current PhD Students
Completed PhD Students
  • Dr Federico Cugurullo
  • Dr Aaron Van Klyton
  • Dr Liat Racin 
4SSG1011 – Principles of Geographical Inquiry 1 (15 credits) 

I convene and teach on this core human geography module which takes students from the core, grounding concepts of geographical thought through to the processes of data collection and analysis. The module aims to introduce first years to a “geographical” way of thinking and extend this from the classroom to the field. The module is assessed through practical survey work, computer tests and field reports. 

5SSG2048 – BA Research Tutorials 5SSG2063 (15 credits)

This second year module uses a combination of lectures and small-group tutorials to help stunets explore the meaning and purpose of research and work towards the submission of their IGS proposal. The  module runs over two terms and is team taught.  It is assessed by an essay and the proposal itself. 

6SSG3069 – Health Lifestyles and Cities (15 credits)

This module explores the theoretical debates concerning the study of health within geography and the interrelationships between health and the built form of cities. To do this, it examines current public health policies and the practices involved in governing unhealthy lifestyles and asks how spatial and social differences between and within cities condition the problematisation of lifestyles.  The module aims to arm students an understanding of social, economic, political and policy issues relating to the current incorporation of ‘lifestyle’ diseases within public health policy. The module is assessed by summer exam. 

7SSG5152 – Health, Lifestyles and Cities (postgraduate 15 credits)

The module above is co-taught as a masters module. Masters and Third Year students join together for a weekly lecture and then are taught in two separate seminars. The two groups explore the same readings and case studies, but will be asked to undertake different in-class assignments and final assessments. The masters module is assessed through a presentation, short reflective essay and longer essay.  

Impact, innovation and outreach

Chair of the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘Geographies of Health’ Research Group which coordinates a bi-annual conference for early career researchers as well as sponsoring number of specialist sessions at the RGS-IBG annual conference.

ESRC Peer Review College

US National Science Foundation grant reviewer

South African National Research Foundation reviewer

External examiner, University of Cape Town

Conferences, seminars and invited talks since 2011

“Evidence in alcohol policy: from North to South”  Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting,  Tampa FL 2014 (paper as part of a session on the ‘Geographies of Global Health’ co-convened with David Reubi and Tim Brown, QMUL) 

Alcohol and the Health City CityLab workshop, with the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town.  Convened workshop with 25 participants and six speakers to disseminate and discuss the findings of the ESRC-DFID research programme.  More details on the programme, findings and talks can be found here

“Creating interdisciplinary and international research: crossing the social science, public health divide” invited seminar at the University of Cape Town’s Programme for Research Enhancement, November 25, 2013

“Alcohol, NCDs and development in South Africa”, RGS Annual Conference,  paper presented as part of two sessions on ‘NCDs in the Global South’ organised with Tim Brown and David Reubi, QMUL. 

“Is alcohol affecting health and development in Cape Town?”, invited paper presented with Professor Sue Parnell to the C3 Collaborating for Health International Breakfast Seminar Series, London

“Stakeholder narratives on alcohol governance in the Western Cape: the sociospatial "nuisance" of drink”, paper presented to the Psychology Unit, University of Cape Town, 2013

“The moment he starts drinking, the devil comes out of him”, paper presented at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, 2013

“Shebeens in the news”, paper presented at the Medical Sociology Conference (BSA), University of Leicester, 2012

“Governing alcohol control: what is said versus what is done”, Society of Southern African Geographers Conference, Cape Town, 2012 (part of two panel sessions organised on Alcohol and the City with and Mary Lawhon, University of Pretoria)

“Alcohol and non-communicable disease” invited paper presented at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, 2012

“The Political Ecology of alcohol as “disaster”, Association of American Geographers Conference , New York, 2012 (part of two sessions organised on Alcohol, Poverty and the City with Mary Lawhon, University of Pretoria and Sue Parnell, UCT) 


For a full list of publications, please visit Dr Herrick's research profile.


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