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Imagining Illness

Imagining Illness: Public Health and Visual Culture

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 328
  • Book Info
    Imagining Illness
    Book Description:

    Imagining Illness explores the diverse visual culture of public health, broadly defined, from the nineteenth century to the present. The contributors examine historical and contemporary visual practices—Chinese health fairs, documentary films from the World Health Organization, illness maps, fashions for nurses, and live surgery on the Internet—delving into the political and epidemiological contexts underlying their creation and dissemination.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7533-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Toward a Visual Culture of Public Health From Broadside to YouTube
    (pp. xi-xxxviii)

    In “HPV Boredom 2,” a one-and-a-half-minute-long video posted in March 2007 on the popular Web site YouTube, an attractive young woman stares at the camera while listening on her cell phone to a passionless electronic voice reciting an enervating litany of facts about the human papillomavirus, the genitally transmitted virus otherwise known as HPV.1 As one watches the young woman’s face, one becomes aware that her eyes—darting nervously, or glazing over, or rolling in their sockets—are the most animated part of the video, while her general affect registers a range of cognitive or emotional changes that are less...

  5. Part I. Tracing the Visual Culture of Public Health Campaigns

    • 1. Image and the Imaginary in Early Health Education Wilbur Augustus Sawyer and the Hookworm Campaigns of Australia and Asia
      (pp. 3-23)

      The hookworm campaigns conducted by the Rockefeller Foundation in the early twentieth century were among the earliest public health education campaigns that incorporated fundamental principles still used in twenty-first-century public health. The foundation, and specifically the International Health Board (IHB), used an intersectoral approach, bringing together different departments (education, health, agriculture), supporting public–private partnerships, encouraging community involvement and local ownership of health interventions, using mixed media presented in culturally appropriate contexts, and establishing systems and structures to ensure sustainable behavioral change and disease control. The visionary nature of these campaigns, and the premises of those who shaped them in...

    • 2. Cultural Communication in Picturing Health W. W. Peter and Public Health Campaigns in China, 1912–1926
      (pp. 24-39)

      The evolution of modern public health education took place in China when the country was undergoing a difficult process of transformation from a traditional society into a modern nation. The pioneering effort of national public health education was initiated in 1910 by the Joint Council on Public Health Education, which was composed of Western-trained Chinese physicians and Christian medical missionaries. The Chinese nationals in modern medicine were searching for national sovereignty and modernity through the public health movement, whereas the missionaries were seeking Christian evangelism. Although these two groups came from drastically different cultural backgrounds and aspired to different larger...

    • 3. The Color of Money Campaigning for Health in Black and White America
      (pp. 40-61)

      In 1936, the National Tuberculosis Association (NTA) commissioned the Austrian sociologist, political economist, and philosopher Otto Neurath to design a traveling exhibit to educate Americans on the causes and prevention of tuberculosis. Part of a national NTA campaign launched under the slogan, “No Home Is Safe until All Homes Are Safe,” “Fighting Tuberculosis Successfully” needed to carry its message of TB prevention to all age, economic, and racial groups in the United States. Neurath appeared a logical choice to accomplish this mission in mass education. Ten years earlier, while director of the Museum of Economy and Society in Red Vienna,...

    • 4. Empathy and Objectivity Health Education through Corporate Publicity Films
      (pp. 62-82)

      The pursuit of public health has been a pursuit of the public’s attention since the first efforts were made to provide medical treatment to the masses. This desire for a mechanism of mass publicity, coupled with an early focus on the spread of communicable diseases, meant that public health required an educational medium that could capture both movement through space and change over time; for these reasons, the spatial and temporal attributes of contagion had an obvious affinity for motion pictures and, later, video.¹ With its additional ability to represent organisms that are invisible to the naked eye, film appealed...

  6. Part II. Mapping a Visual Genealogy of Public Health

    • 5. Contagion, Public Health, and the Visual Culture of Nineteenth-Century Skin
      (pp. 85-107)

      In the beginning was the itch. Then there was the scratch, and a wheal that became a bleb, the yuke, the crust, and the squirmy tingling psora. In the end, there was sulfur. But what happened in between the first sign of disorder and the subduing of it? For a person to get to the point where she or he was asked to bathe in sulfur in order to relieve suffering involved many incremental steps that are deeply intertwined with historical forces. Looking at skin, and the wonders to be found there, was crucial to understanding how and why some...

    • 6. Maps as Graphic Propaganda for Public Health
      (pp. 108-125)

      Scholarly treatments of the use of maps in medicine and public health typically focus on the map’s role as an exploratory or confirmatory tool for scientific research.¹ The classic example, heavily promoted in epidemiology and geography, is John Snow’s map of cholera cases clustered around London’s infamous Broad Street Pump during the epidemic of 1854 (Figure 6.1).² According to medical (and geographic) folklore, Snow suspected waterborne transmission of the disease but lacked proof until he made a detailed plot of victims’ residences. With his map as evidence, the good doctor convinced local officials to remove the pump handle, thereby halting...

    • 7. “Some One Sole Unique Advertisement” Public Health Posters in the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 126-142)

      While there have been broadsides on public health issues posted by local and state governments for several centuries, there were but few illustrated posters for such events before the late nineteenth century. These were largely notices for fundraising events, sponsored either by the Red Cross or by hospitals, beginning in the 1890s. A good example of the earliest public health posters was theCroix Rouge du Congoby Allard L’Olivier. Published as a supplement in a Belgian newspaper in 1891, it presented a realistic scene of physicians and nurses at work in a field hospital tent. A more striking image...

    • 8. Nursing the Nation The 1930s Public Health Nurse as Image and Icon
      (pp. 143-166)

      In 1937, the National Organization of Public Health Nursing (hereafter NOPHN) celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, an accomplishment that inspired the organization to take stock of its past and future rather self-consciously. In the two and a half decades since its advent, the NOPHN had undergone important structural changes. From an organization of less than two hundred members in 1912, it had grown to one of eight thousand, claiming a larger community of twenty thousand public health nurses in the United States, capable together of making twenty-nine million visits each year. Increasingly, its practitioners viewed their main object as “health,” and...

  7. Part III. Building New Public Spheres for Public Health

    • 9. Visual Imagery and Epidemics in the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 169-192)

      There can be few better places to begin thinking about public health and visual imagery than Oliviero Toscani’s wonderfully irreverent poster on the death of the American AIDS activist, David Kirby (Figure 9.1). First released as a press photo in November 1990 entitled “Final Moments” and reconceived by Toscani as a part of an advertising campaign for the United Colors of Benetton in 1992, 1 it was greeted with howls of protest and prohibitions. The Germans took it to court, French billstickers refused to post it, and, in Britain, TheGuardian(the first newspaper to run it as a full-page...

    • 10. The Image of the Child in Postwar British and U. S. Psychoanalysis
      (pp. 193-222)

      Psychoanalysis, with its focus on the individual in the therapeutic setting, would seem to present little of value in a discussion of public health or the determination of policy and the management of child social welfare on a national, much less a global, scale. If we look to the definitive work of child psychoanalysts such as Melanie Klein or her followers, we find little evidence of commitment to public or macrolevel issues. Although her work has become the historical standard in child psychoanalysis, Klein was far from the only prominent child psychoanalyst of the postwar period, and in fact there...

    • 11. Performing Live Surgery on Television and the Internet since 1945
      (pp. 223-244)

      Historians of visual culture and of communication technology have often described the period from the late 1940s through the late 1950s in the United States as the “Golden Age” of broadcast television.¹ The rough-hewn, often experimental, and unusually rich years associated with live series like theKraft Television TheaterandPlayhouse 90and early visionaries like Paddy Chayefsky, Ernie Kovacs, and Rod Serling are routinely lauded as examples of the height to which the new medium of television had soared though barely a decade old. Yet such nostalgically rendered projections of quality and taste are often considered anachronistically in a...

    • 12. Imagining Mood Disorders as a Public Health Crisis
      (pp. 245-263)

      Americans living under the description of manic depression today are often encouraged to keep a “mood chart” in order to manage their manias and depressions. The practice is part of a long tradition dating back to the eighteenth century, when charts were used to manage the daily ups and downs of moods. The Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush devised a “moral thermometer,” published in a popular health magazine in 1833, that enabled people to register changes from “unfeeling,” “cold,” or “sullen” on the low end to “hot,” “passionate,” or “ungovernable” on the high end (Figure 12.1). Rush intended the moral thermometer...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 264-266)
  9. Index
    (pp. 267-285)