Udodiri R. Okwandu

Udodiri R. Okwandu

Okwando Photo

Research Interests: History of Medicine and Public Health; Black Studies; Critical Theories of Race, Gender, and Sexuality; Medical Humanities; Carceral Sciences; Biomedicalization; Reproductive Medicine; Psychiatry and Mental Health

Udodiri R. Okwandu is a doctoral candidate in the History of Science Department and Presidential Scholar at Harvard University. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2017 with an AB in the History of Science (Mind, Brain, and Behavior track) and a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Her senior thesis, which won the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize, an award which recognizes outstanding scholarly work or research by students selected by a committee of faculty from Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, examined the medicalization and racialization of Civil Rights protests in the 1960s/70s, contextualizing it with the rise of law and order political ideology.

Udodiri is passionate about using her research to explore the rich and complex histories of Black Americans (and other marginalized communities) as they relate to medicine and science. She is particularly interested in the ways in which scientific and medical inquiry have been deployed by the state to manage and control marginalized populations. As such, her work critically examines science and medicine’s relationship to power and their ability to enact subjection. Her current work examines the intersection and constructions of race, reproduction, and psychiatric health in the United States and how they undermine the concept of “citizenship” for Black Americans. In her spare time, Udodiri enjoys trying out new recipes, attending concerts, fitness, and writing poems.


“Violence and the (Black) Brain: Law and Order Politics and the Biomedicalization of Urban Rioting and Violence, 1960 – 1975.” DeWitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New, York. December 2019.

“The History of Medical and Scientific Racism in America and Why it Matters for Physicians.” Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA. May 2019.

“The History of Medical and Scientific Racism in America.” NOVA’s CafeSci Boston at WGBH Forum Network, Boston, MA. April 2019.

Previous Degrees: 
AB., History of Science, Harvard University