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Dr Nicole Baur

Honorary Research Fellow


01392 723363

My research interests are situated at the interface of spatial and environmental humanities and the social sciences. More specifically, I work at the intersection of geography, social sciences, and medicine. From a background as a health geographer, my active research to date has covered various aspects of spatial practices and environmental impacts on health and well-being. Space and place are the focus of my research and key themes encompassed the spatial distribution of diseases, spatial practices in psychiatric institutions, as well as geographical dimensions of health inequalities. My main approach has been from interdisciplinary perspectives, resulting in fruitful collaborations across academic disciplines and with community organisations and charities.

Research interests

Remembering the Mental Hospital (HLF, £40,900, 2015-2017)

I am the Principal Investigator on ‘Remembering the Mental Hospital’, a project aiming to create a digital archive of the former Devon County Mental Hospital. I direct a team of volunteers who catalogue surviving correspondence, press cuttings as well as personal memories, experiences and stories of individuals affiliated with the Hospital. A team of creative and performance artists are working towards making the contents of these items available to the general public.

This project has grown out of my previous work on the Devon County Mental Hospital. This started with the pilot project ‘Assessment of Exeter Partnership NHS Trust Records’ (2007), which led to the research projects ‘Retrieving and preserving modern mental health records’ (2008-2009) and ‘Mental illness and returning patient care in the early National Health Service: A comparative study of the admission and treatment of multiple entry patients in English Mental Hospitals, c. 1948-1970’ (2010-2012).


Towards harmonised ethical standards (EU FP7 Scheme, 2014-2017)

Since 2014 I have also been employed as a researcher on the project ‘Towards harmonised ethical standards’, a sociological subproject of the multinational clinical trial BAMI. With Principal Investigator Professor Christine Hauskeller I am investigating the effects of harmonised European regulation on the implementation of a phase III clinical trial across eleven European countries. I presented preliminary findings of our subproject at the Bionetworking conference at Brighton University and Professor Hauskeller and I are currently producing several co-authored journal articles and book chapters to be published in 2016-7.


Spaces of the Mind (HASS Strategy Fund, 2013-2014)

In this pilot project I supported Principal Investigator Dr Natasha Lushetich in her work towards a better understanding of the relationship between affect and space, i.e. the manner in which individual structures of feeling shape common spaces and vice versa. We worked closely with Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, where I created a digital archive of oral histories with patients and staff. We presented preliminary findings in a co-authored paper at the 'Alternative Psychiatric Narratives' workshop at Birkbeck in May 2014.


This weather always gets me down (ISSF, £15,639, 2012)

I was the Principal Investigator on ‘This weather always gets me down’, a six-month pilot project to study links between meteorological parameters and mental illness. Findings were disseminated in a poster presentation at the Medical Research Showcase Event in January 2013.

Research collaborations

All projects had a strong interdisciplinary component in design and methodologies and I have collaborated with the following bodies:

BioMed Hub (Exeter University)

Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Met Office

Devon Heritage Centre

Gloucestershire Record Office

Research supervision

I am happy to supervise students who are interested in working on mental health topics.

Other information

Member of the Society for the Social History of Medicine

 Examiner for the Edexcel GCSE “Medicine through Time” module of the “Schools History Project (SHP)

Conference Papers

06/2012 University of Exeter, Workshop 'Knowledge versus Expertise: Popular health and Landscapes of Reform'
 ‘Revealing the hidden third party: the key role of relatives in the management of mental illness’

04/2012 University of Glasgow, ESSH Conference
 ‘The “revolving door patient revisited”: environmental risk factors in readmissions to British Mental Hospitals in the 20th century’ (with J. Melling).

04/2012 University of Exeter, Conference ‘The stress of life’
 ‘Stress as a cause of mental illness and its translation into ordinary life’.

09/2011 University of Exeter, Workshop ‘Getting into and out of the asylum’
 ‘”Lost in Translation?” Voices of lay people and professionals on the perceived causes of mental illness’.

07/2011 University of Exeter, BSHS Annual Conference
 ‘Chemical straight-jackets and the “Largactil shuffle” – the pharmacological era and emergence of the revolving door patient in mental health history’.

04/2011 University of Exeter, Conference ‘Fabricating the body: Textiles and human health in historical perspective’
 ‘Dressing and undressing the patient’ (with J. Melling).

02/2011 LSTM, Conference ‘Global Health Rights in Historical Perspective’
 ‘From incarceration to the “Buddi tracker” – Patient rights in mental health care versus protection of the general public’.

07/2010 Durham University, SSHM Conference
 ‘Continuity and change in psychiatric practice and patient care’.

06/2007 Manchester University, BSHS Annual Conference
‘Immunisation put in place: vaccine uptake rates in Berlin, Germany’.

09/2006 University of Exeter, Centre for Medical History
‘Place as a contributor to health risks – landscapes of under-vaccination in Berlin’.

06/2006 Queen Mary University, London, Emerging New Research in Geographies of Health and Impairment ENRGHI Conference
‘The Fall of the Berlin Wall and its Effect on Diphtheria Vaccination Patterns’.

01/2006 Glasgow Caledonian University, Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare
‘The Transition from Curative to Preventive Medicine and its Impact on Diphtheria in 20th Century Germany’.

10 /2005 Universität Trier, Annual Conference: Deutscher Geographentag
‘“Revisiting uninvited” - Diphtherie zu Beginn und zu Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts in Europa’’.

Invited papers

10/2011 University of Exeter, Centre for Medical History

‘Hearing voices? Representations of male sexual deviance among mental hospital patients, 1948 - 1970’ (with J. Melling).


06/2011 Manchester Metropolitan University, Wellcome Trust Research Meeting

 ‘Here is our old friend again – Mental illness and returning patient care 1948 - 1970’.


09/2010 University of Warwick, Workshop on “Migration, Mental Illness, and the Management of Asylum Populations”

‘Mental health patients and readmissions to mental hospitals in southern England c. 1948-1965: some patterns of movement’ (with J. Melling)


12/2007 Research Resources in Medical History Winter Conference, Wellcome Trust, Edinburgh

‘In search of the patient’.


10 / 2007 Friends of Devon’s Archives AGM & Conference, County Hall Exeter

‘Searching for the patient’.


07/2006 Durham University, Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease

‘Diphtheria immunisation in Germany – the unfinished agenda’.


02/2006 James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough

‘Spatial Mobility – Globalisation – Immunity. Are YOU prepared for diphtheria?’.


02 /2004 Gesundheitsamt Baden-Wűrttemberg

‘Die Epidemiologie der Diphtherie innerhalb der Deutschen Grenzen seit dem Kaiserreich’.


01 /2004 Universität Heidelberg, Abteilung fűr Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeographie

‘Die Diphtherie in Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft’.


External impact and engagement

I have received several public engagements grants, which has allowed me to work with a number of community organisations and creative artists.

In 2016, I was awarded the PG/ECR Engagement Award  (£1,000, Exeter Doctoral College). The money allows me to collaborate with the Devon Recovery Learning Community and Double Elephant Print Workshop in order to create a learning module on the former Devon County Mental Hospital, which will be taught in Spring 2017.

In 2015, I obtained an ESRC Social Science Festival grant (£1,170), which allowed me to create a public exhibition in St Stephen’s Church, Exeter, showcasing my ‘Remembering the Mental Hospital’ project.

Another ESRC Social Science Festival grant (£610) awarded in 2012 enabled me to create the popular website ‘Social attitudes and mental illness in Devon, 1845-1987’ (


Other community organisations and creative artists involved in my work include:

Exminster Primary School

The Manor Care Home, Exminster

Artists Nicci Wonnacott & Tat Ruck

Anthos Arts (Bristol), Trestle Theatre (St Albans) & Spaniel in the Works (Gloucester)

Modules taught


Born and raised in the beautiful area of southern Germany, I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in geography and English at Heidelberg University. During my studies I was awarded a scholarship to spend one academic year studying in the “Waterloo-Laurier Graduate Program in Geography” in Ontario,  Canada, where I was inspired to take modules in health geography. Back in Germany, this enjoyment led me to collaborate with the Heidelberg-based Centre for Medical History, and finally to embark on a PhD in health geography. I gained my PhD in 2005 and moved to England shortly afterwards to take up a post-doc fellowship at the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease at Durham University. In 2007, I joined the Exeter Centre for Medical History.

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