‘“The most extensive photographic collection in the world”: Seeing Health “through the eyes” of the WHO, 1948-90’, Dr Alexander Medcalf, Dept of History, University of York
Abstract: This seminar will focus on the photographic archives of the World Health Organization (WHO). As the quote in the title suggests, over almost half a century the WHO invested heavily in procuring photographic material and showcasing it in magazines, newspapers and at exhibitions around the world. Indeed, some of the imagery is likely familiar to the public even today, and will become more so as the WHO celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023. But historians have been less concerned with the WHO’s output compared to other international organisations such as UNRRA, UNICEF and UNESCO. This seminar will therefore consider why the WHO invested so heavily in photography; what was the material’s purpose; how campaigns were structured and managed; and ultimately what impact the WHO’s media machine had on the image of international health across the second half of the twentieth century.
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