School of Social and Political Science

John Nott

Job Title

Research Fellow

Photograph of John

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Building (Address)

Chisholm House

Street (Address)

High School Yards

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Research interests

Research interests

I am currently a Research Fellow on Lukas's Engelmann's ERC-funded project 'The Epidemiological Revolution. A History of Epidemiological Reasoning in the Twentieth Century.'

(ERC Starting Grant, January 2021 - December 2025)

Project Website: The Epidemy / Twitter: EpidemyERC

Epidemiology has historically been a niche field in the medical sciences, often side-lined by laboratory scientists and clinicians as a weak and inferior science. However, over the twentieth century, the field and its experts have gained unprecedented authority and influence. Epidemiologists have won the trust of policy makers and the general public to define public health crises, such as infectious diseases, chronic conditions and 'unhealthy' lifestyles. We seek to understand how epidemiologists have built their arguments, how they define epidemics and what makes this kind of reasoning unique. My role in the project is to consider how epidemiologists collected scattered information from different sources into coherent and comparable datasets which could offer insight into patterns of disease.


My background lies in the medical and economic history of contemporary Africa, but my interests have grown to include interests in medical anthropology, medical epistemology, Science and Technology Studies, demography, and epidemiology. 

I was trained at the University of Leeds, where my PhD focussed the history of nutrition and nutritional medicine in Ghana since the end of the nineteenth century. A monograph derived from this project is forthcoming. Some of my other work on the history of nutrition can be found here.

Prior to coming to Edinburgh, I was based at Maastricht University as a Research Fellow on Anna Harris' ERC-funded project, Making Clinical Sense, a historical-ethnographic study of the technologies used medical education. Our edited collection, Making Sense of Medicine: Material Culture and the Reproduction of Medical Knowledge, will be available in Autumn 2022.