Pathologies of Difference: maps the ways medicine and race shaped the project of empire and traces the impact on perceptions of racial difference, disease and health today.

Map of the world from 1850 with regions of the British Empire demarcated in red.

Map of the world from 1850 with regions of the British Empire demarcated in red. Image Credit: John Bartholomew printed by A Fullerton & Co, British Empire throughout the world exhibited in one view, 1850, 26 x 49 cm, Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 dcu,

This map unfurls the ‘world’ giving an all-encompassing view of the territories, and people, forced to belong to the British Empire. Maps like this collected and collated differences to make sense of space, presenting the world as a site of endless resources. Maps like these continue to shape our understanding and experience of space, the meanings we can envision about who we are, and how we got here. In this section we use the objects in the database to form another kind of map that interrogates our colonial histories, and acknowledges their present-day legacies. 

Medicine and Art History are connected by a reliance on the visual, but how we see is influenced by what we are able to, compelled or allowed to see. Black feminist scholars like Dorothy Roberts continue to remind us that “race is built into the foundation of medicine.” As we follow these conjunctions, we consider how meanings of race and processes of image-making mediated the practices of observation and interpretation that sustained (still sustain) the field of medicine. By tracing these intersections, we also make connections between different geographies and histories not usually brought together. This is the way we try to unmap the historical views we have been given, to create alternative viewing positions into our past, and into our futures. 

Pathologies of Difference