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Margaret Hicken: Landscapes of racial dispossession and control: Cultural and structural racism and population health inequities

November 13, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

On November 13, 2020, Margaret Hicken, a Research Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research Survey Research Center, will present “Landscapes of racial dispossession and control: Cultural and structural racism and population health inequities” as part of the Carolina Population Center’s 2020-21 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series. This year, the CPC Interdisciplinary Research Seminars will be open to both CPC members and Social Epidemiology program members.


The health inequalities between Black and White Americans have been well-documented for decades, with much of the population and public health literature still focused on individual-level behaviors and health care. A small but growing literature has called for an emphasis on structural racism as the root driver of these inequalities, but often focus solely on single institutional aspects of US structure, on contemporary forms of racism, and/or on the psychosocial impact of racism. In the Landscapes of Racial Dispossession and Control project, historical and contemporary forms of racial violence are linked through notions of cultural racism to result in sustained racial health inequalities. Cultural racism is composed of our shared values, ideologies, and beliefs of what it means to be American. These value systems then shape the ways our interconnected and symbiotic institutions operate to create our social structure. In other words, cultural racism shapes the structural answers to “Whose life counts?”. With a framework linking cultural and structural racism through history, the fundamental drivers — and potential intervention points — of contemporary population health inequalities becomes clearer.


Maggie Hicken is an interdisciplinary population health scientist with training in both demography and epidemiology as well as molecular and cellular biology and population genetics. She examines notions of cultural and structural racism and their relation to health inequities through biological mechanisms. Much of her research to date has focused on cultural racism and the toxic burden of vigilance on the part of Black Americans as they navigate everyday White space as well as on modifying impact of biosocial stress on the association between environmental hazards and health. With her K01 award, she gained training in population genetics and has examined the role of the social environment in the link between genes and chronic conditions. Further, with her current R01-funded research, she is examining the both historical and contemporary forms of residential segregation, the interactive impact of social stressors and environmental hazards, and DNA methylation patterns that might be associated with racial inequalities in aging. Through each thread of her research, Dr. Hicken weaves together theory from the humanities, legal studies, and social science to clarify the root causes of racial health inequalities.

This event will be held on Zoom and is closed to the public. We will post a recording after the talk. You can see previous events here.


November 13, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Carolina Population Center