Suggested Readings + Materials

May 6, 2021 | Observing the Past: Archives, Interpretation and Practices of Care

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, Dr. Edna Bonhomme, Dr. Ruth De Souza RN, PhD, FACN, Phoebe Nobles, and Emma Sarconi discussed how they practice care in the interpretation and collection of medical history archives, and they offered their perspectives on some of the difficult questions around the collection, interpretation, and publication of medical history and imagery that continue to have an impact on the ways people are treated within the medical sphere and beyond. The event recording can be found here. Additionally, to build upon their conversation, the panelists shared several texts that have proved helpful as they develop their research and practices of care. They have provided some of their own work as well.

From Dr. Edna Bonhomme:

  • Bhattacharya, Nandini. Contagion and Enclaves: Tropical Medicine in Colonial India. Liverpool, UK: Liverpool University Press, 2012.
  • Bonhomme, Edna. “Ways of Knowing.” The Baffler, May 5, 2021.
  • Bonhomme, Edna. “Germany’s Anti-Vaccination History Is Riddled With Anti-Semitism.” The Atlantic, May 3, 2021.
  • Bonhomme, Edna. “Troubling (Post)Colonial Histories of Medicine: Toward a Praxis of the Human.” Isis Vol. 111, no. 4 (2020): 830-833.
  • Goyal, Yogita. Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2019.
  • Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Boston, MA: Thayer & Eldridge, 1861.
  • Mbembe, Achille. Necropolitics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019.
  • McKittrick, Katherine. “Plantation Futures.” Small Axe 17, no. 3 (2013): 1-15.
  • Randolph, Rev. Peter. From Slave Cabin to the Pulpit; the Autobiography of Rev. Peter Randolph: The Southern Question Illustrated and Sketches of Slave Life. Boston, MA: James H. Earle, 1893.
  • Roberts, Dorothy E. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 1997.
  • Washington, Harriet A. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2007.

From Dr. Ruth De Souza:

From Emma Sarconi:

  • Caswell, Michelle. “Dusting for Fingerprints: Introducing Feminist Standpoint Appraisal.” Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies 3, no. 1 (2019): 1-36.
  • Farmer, Ashley. “Archiving While Black.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2018.
  • Howsam, Leslie. “In My View: Women and Book History.” SHARP News 7, no. 4 (1998): 1–2.
  • Overholt, John H. “Five theses on the future of special collections.” RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage 14, no. 1 (2013): 15-20.
  • Werner, Sarah. “Weaving a Feminist Book History.” Society for American Archivists Conference, 2018. Keynote address.

About the Panelists

Dr. Edna Bonhomme is a historian and writer in Berlin, Germany. She earned her PhD in the history of science from Princeton University and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University. Her dissertation titled, “Plague Bodies and Spaces: Medicine, Trade, and Death in Ottoman Egypt, 1705-1830 CE,” examined the commercial and geopolitical trajectory of plague and its links to commercial, provincial, and imperial policies in several North African port cities. Her master’s thesis focused on HIV/AIDS and sex work in the Caribbean. Working with sound, text, and archives, Edna explores contagion, epidemics, and toxicity through decolonial practices and African diaspora worldmaking. A central question of her work asks: what makes people sick? Her practices trouble how people perceive modern plagues and how they try to escape from them. As a researcher, she answers this question by using textual archives and oral histories to unpack the variant notions of sickness and health as well as the modalities of care that shape the possibility for repair. Her artistic language combines science studies with traditional healing elements. Her project Black Health in Germany is part of her long-term research project that she has started in 2019 with a growing collection/archive on the representation of Black health and healing in Germany. Some of her critical multimedia projects have been featured at Haus Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), alpha nova galerie futura (Berlin), and the Austrian Academy of Women Artists (Austria). She has written for academic journals and popular press including AljazeeraThe BafflerThe GuardianThe NationAfrica is a Country,The New Republic, ISIS History of Science Journal, Jacobin Magazine, Journal for North African Studies, Public Books, and other publications.

Dr. Ruth De Souza is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Based in the School of Art, she is a nurse, academic and community engaged researcher in gender, race, health and digital technologies. Prior to coming to RMIT, she was the academic co-convenor of the Data, Systems and Society Research Network (DSSRN), a collaborative research network across the University of Melbourne. Her Fellowship engages health professionals in finding new ways to understand, co-design and implement sustainable cultural safety initiatives in a range of health contexts. Ruth’s current projects include research on social isolation, digital technologies and the experiences of older people from culturally diverse backgrounds during COVID-19; how pregnant women from South Asian backgrounds used apps in pregnancy during the pandemic; affordances of patient generated health data in the community clinic and using design probes to facilitate discussions about digital health literacy among marginalised communities.

Phoebe Nobles is a Term Archivist at Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University. She has worked at Mudd in several temporary positions since 2016, and is a member of the Inclusive Description Working Group formed in 2019 by the Archival Description and Processing Team in Special Collections at Princeton University Library.

Emma Sarconi is the Reference Professional for Special Collections at Princeton’s Firestone Library. She as a BA in Book and Media Studies from the University of Toronto, an MA in English Literature from New York University and an MLIS from Long Island University. As a librarian and book historian, Sarconi seeks to facilitate conversations around the impact of special collections in our lives by providing quality reference services, instruction design, project management and event planning. She is the Chair of the RBMS Leab Exhibition Awards Committee, the co-Director of the Archival Silences Working Group at Princeton and the Project lead for the Her Book at Princeton project, an ongoing inventory of women’s ownership markings within Princeton Special Collections.

 

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