/ Research, Doctorate/PhD

Call for Papers: Photographs as sources for writing histories of medicine, health and healing in colonial and postcolonial Africa

Workshop at the University of Basel (15-16 April 2021)

Over the last thirty years, photographs have become important sources of information for scholars seeking to reconstruct and examine the African past – whether related to material objects, social processes and practices, or attitudes and sensibilities. In employing visual evidence, historians and anthropologists recognise and reflect critically on photography as a complex and historically contingent practice, and images as polyvalent and often ambiguous artefacts.

This workshop seeks to apply theoretical and methodological insights produced by visual historians to the writing of histories of medicine, health and healing in colonial and postcolonial Africa. Over the course of the ca. 150 years since the introduction of photographic technology in Africa, it has been employed in a myriad of manners and settings related to health. Historians are confronted with depictions of everything from clinical work, public health education campaigns and pharmaceutical interventions, to buildings, equipment, specimens and anatomy. During this two-day workshop, hosted by the Department of History at the University of Basel, scholars working at the intersection of visual, medical and African history will explore the opportunities and challenges of using photographs to write histories of health and healing in colonial and postcolonial Africa.


Graduate students, early career and established scholars who are employing photographs to write histories related to medicine, health and healing in Africa are invited to present their work in progress and participate in discussion around these themes.

Deadline for submission: 15 October 2020