Note: Due to the Corona pandemic, many events are cancelled or postponed while others take place with restrictions. Please consult the Website of the respective organizers for details.

19 May 2022 - 20 May 2022
09:00  - 17:30

Fakultätenzimmer, Kollegienhaus, Petersplatz 1, 4051 Basel

Danelle van Zyl-Hermann (University of Basel) and Rosa Williams (St Lawrence University)

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

Workshop for graduate students, early career and established scholars

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 explore the opportunities and challenges of using photographs to write histories of health and healing in colonial and postcolonial Africa.


Thursday 19 May 2022

9h00 Welcome and introduction

9h30 Sloan Mahone (University of Oxford)

10h15 Catherine Burns (University of the Witwatersrand/Adler Museum of Medicine)

11h00 Break

11h30 Discussion

12h30 Lunch

13h30 Catherine Burns input

13h50 Michaela Clark (University of Manchester): Surface Tensions: Photographic Uncertainties at Cape Town’s Medical School

14h40 Rosa Williams (St Lawrence University): Being seen to care: Photographs, audiences and the medical mission in colonial Mozambique

15h30 Break

16h00 Oluwafunminiyi Raheem (University of Ilorin): ‘He took me by the hand and led me into the spirit world’: What photographs can tell us about Susanne Wenger’s traditional healing in Nigeria

16h50 Danelle van Zyl-Hermann (University of Basel): Visualising tuberculosis control: Medical imagery in late-colonial Kenya

17h40 Wrap up

18h00 End, proceed to dinner

Friday 20 May 2022

8h30 Catherine Burns input

8h50 Victor Olaoye (Graduate Institute Geneva): A photographic history of philanthropic interventions in Nigeria’s public health: The case of the Rockefeller Foundation

9h40 Sarah Ehlers (Rachel Carson Centre, LMU/Deutsches Museum): Picturing the effects of pesticide use: Practices of photographic evidence in postcolonial Africa, 1970-1980s

10h30 Break

11h00 Chimwemwe Phiri (Durham University): Visual representations of tropical diseases in colonial Malawi and Sudan: A comparative understanding of the epistemology and politics of medical imagery

11h50 Rory du Plessis (University of Pretoria): Making visible the humanness of children with intellectual disabilities in South Africa, circa 1895 to 1916

12h40 Wrap up

13h00 Lunch, travel to Novartis

15h00 Novartis archival visit

17h30 End



This workshop is for registered participants only. Contact 

Export event as iCal