May 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
Leprosy Suspects in a Photographic Archive of Skin
Adria L. Imada
Representations, Vol. 138 No. 1, Spring 2017; (pp. 1-36) DOI: 10.1525/rep.2017.138.1.1
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This essay assesses clinical photographs of leprosy patients created by the Hawai‘i Board of Health in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, or what may be the most extensive visual cataloging of indigenous, Asian, and immigrant bodies in America’s Pacific empire. Building on theoretical and methodological approaches to archives as a process rather than a source, I follow the trail of these clinical images through time and space, from their emergence within a photographic practice of medical management and segregation in Hawai‘i to their prolific circulation in transnational political and medical arenas. Offering spectacular evidence of the racialized and sexualized pathology of colonial peoples, these photographs were tightly regulated but increasingly viewed as clinical erotica after the United States incorporated Hawai‘i as a territory in 1900. The essay further suggests the “affective excess” that can disrupt the photograph’s medical surveillance, as social intimacies and care between Hawaiian patients bloom within the frame.
Remove the adjectives. Remove the adverbs. Rewrite into non-jargony English and what do you have?
I analyze photographs of patients [one wonders about the patient’s privacy aspects of the research but setting that aside] and how they were used and try to generate some sort of case that something happened other than what seems to have happened which is photography in the furtherance of medicine. Of course any analysis suffers from what pomoish would call ‘presentism’.
“This A assesses B of C created by D in the late E, or what may be the F of G in Building on A to B as a C rather than a D I follow the E of F through H and I, from their J within a K of L and M in Hawai‘i to N in O and P. Offering A of C, these D were E but F as H after the I incorporated J as a K in L. The A suggests the B that can disrupt the C as D and E between F bloom within the G.”