Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism

Hx is a clinical abbreviation used in health professions to represent “history.” Art Hx addresses the historical and ongoing entanglements between art, race and medicine in the spaces of the former British empire, specifically Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, New Zealand, South Asia, and the United States from the 16th century onward. On this site we have compiled a searchable, digital database of objects and images that bring these histories into view.


As a research platform, Art Hx is organized around these three main themes:

A map of the world with the British Empire colored in red. The top left and right corners feature tables of

Pathologies of Difference maps the ways medicine and race shaped colonial expansion and traces their impact on perceptions of racial difference, disease and health today.

An installation of Medical Series, featuring several cabinets and vitrines.

Cultivating Care considers the many meanings of care in the practice of (historical) interpretation and the practices of health and medical treatment.

A colored aquatint shows a scythe's blade curved in the shape of a semicircle. Underneath the blade is a skeletal beast-like figure holding an hourglass labeled

Medicalized Space focuses on the ways medicine as a field of knowledge was used to interpret, categorize and circulate meanings about humans and their environments.

We want this site to foster dialogue and spark imaginative engagement with these objects and their histories. Please look through and contribute to the database, read and listen to the interpretive material, join us for public events, or engage with the interpretation of these objects as we send out calls for written and audio contributions. We hope that by unraveling the medical visions these objects and images present, we can learn to understand and care for each other differently.

Art Hx