Medical Humanities Colloquy 5.0

Title: Visualising Medical Knowledge – the gaze of the camera, the clinic, and the colony

Speaker: Michaela Clark

Date: 22.2.2022

Time: 5:30pm IST


Abstract: This talk aims to unpack the interlocking operations of the ‘predatory’ gaze of photography as it relates to the clinical camera (in general) and to its use in 20th century Cape Town, South Africa (specifically). By drawing on the history and theory of photography, I seek to articulate the power relations at work in both the photographic medium and the medical field. This is largely done by treating the practice of photography within this colonial and apartheid city in line with John Tagg’s (1988) framing of the medium as an extension of disciplinary power. In order to situate this analysis, my talk also attends to the broader practice of colonialist photography in an effort to highlight the overlapping characteristics of the clinic, the camera, and the colony in medical images of this kind.

Biography: Michaela Clark is a PhD candidate at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), University of Manchester. Her training in Visual Culture Studies (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) where she has lectured and supervised both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Her ongoing doctoral project focuses on a 20th century collection of clinical surgery photographs held at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Pathology Learning Centre.