Accepted Paper:

Medics on the Move on film: tourists, prospectors or witnesses? Medical film archives and three films shot in the Americas 1930-50s from Wellcome Collection, London.  

Author:

Angela Saward (Wellcome Collection)

Paper short abstract:

Historically travelling doctors have accessed remote peoples and places; when these "narratives of discovery" have been conceptualised on film, how problematic are they in light of our understanding of colonial encounters?

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on three films shot in the Americas 1930-50s from Wellcome Collection [Introduction (5'), edited montage of films (10') and Q&A (5')]. It questions the fidelity of three filmed 'colonial' encounters. [Rough edit here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXAu4-YhH76ZJNmgessBCQ9vn-1GyfxQa .]

1.BMA World Tour,1935: Hundreds of members of the British Medical Association travelled via North America/Canada and by sea to Melbourne, Australia, for an annual meeting. Heartily endorsed as a wonderful example of 'colonial medicine' in action, itineraries took the travelling doctors fleetingly through a remote 'Indian' village at Isleta, New Mexico.

2. D-tubercurine,1947: In the 1870s Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome travelled to South East Ecuador on plant hunting expeditions for quinine used to treat malaria. Later, he published an account of his encounter with the Amazonian people. He secured a supply of quinine and obtained samples of curare derived from tree bark, used in arrow poison by indigenous hunters. Curare was later developed into a drug used as a muscle relaxant for surgery and ECT.

3. The Jivaro and his drugs, 1957: Ecuador was the location of Dr Wilburn Henry Ferguson's anthropological medical research. Ferguson, an American, sought the secret behind the shrinking of human heads because, he believed this would reduce cancerous tumours. Seeking funding, he co-opted the Jivaro in re-creating their initial encounter. His oral account of the many layered interactions with the Jivaro is significantly compressed on this film.

Panel P27b
Colonial Film Archives: Interrogations and Interventions