Below are details of the events organised and funded by the ERC BodyCapital project (1 Sept 2016-28 Feb 2022).
Thank you for your interest in our events and thank you to everyone who participated in the ERC BodyCapital project.
[Colloque] BodyCapital final conference
To bring to a close the 5-year ERC project The healthy self as body capital: Individuals, market-based societies, body politics and visual media twentieth century Europe (BodyCapital), we are pleased to hold this 3-day conference at the lovely Harnack House in Berlin to discuss our past 5 years of research and to build new directions for future work in the history of audiovisuals, health and the body.
[Colloque] Televising the Socialist Body. Projections of Health and Welfare on the Socialist and Post-Socialist Screen
International conference, 15-17 December 2021
Condorcet Campus, Aubervilliers (Paris), France
Television prospered upon a tension between education and leisure, which was especially acute in a socialist context. Televisions began to appear in homes in Eastern Europe after its stabilization as a socialist “block” dominated by the USSR. However diverse by nature and history, all the socialist regimes shared common strategies of mass propaganda, i.e. the intensive use of media to convert people and transform collective/individual behaviours. Television was supposed to be a new tool allowing direct normative shaping of every citizen, but also blamed in some circles for stimulating the disarticulation of the class/work/political collective. Moreover, it was uneasy to master: the authorities trained to produce an efficient TV discourse mainly focused on socialist progress (i.e. omitting shortcomings and problems from the picture), and the spectators learned to read it (i.e. to select the information) at the very same time. Finally, crossed communication around programs helped the citizens to identify themselves with a Soviet way-of-life more “normal” than in the past 40 years.
The question of the specificity of the Eastern case in the broader history of European television and the stakes of “socialist” body values merit both a nuanced assessment. The development of television coincided with a period in which ideas about the public’s health, the problems that it faced and the solutions that could be offered, were changing. The threat posed by infectious diseases and famines was receding, to be replaced by chronic diseases, which were linked to lifestyle and individual behaviour. Early in the 1920s’ Soviet Russia, and more generally after World War II, the state turned into a Welfare state. Medical care was granted all life-long. In exchange one had to adopt new hygienic habits and healthy conduct: every citizen now had the right, maybe the duty, to be “healthful.” An expert state-driven approach of the body commissioned the school and the mass media to purge the amateur popular perceptions of medicine. In Eastern Europe, the political power emphasized the necessity of a collective reshaping of the body, defining a “socialist” body (still to outline in general and in its national variations) that contrasted with its “corrupt” Western counterpart.
Watching TV in the 1950s-1990s was part of a shift towards more sedentary lifestyles, and also a vehicle through which products that were damaging to health, such as alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy food, could be advertised to the public. In the Eastern part of Europe, where food was less scarce, alcohol and cigarettes affordable, the states endeavoured simultaneously to promote an ambiguous “socialist” well being and fight the usual “social diseases”, while also accumulating budget income from the consumption, even while condemning consumerism. Throughout the age of television, health and body-related subjects have been presented and diffused into the public sphere via a multitude of forms, ranging from short films in health education programmes to school television; from professional training videos to TV ads; from documentary and reality TV shows to TV news; but also as complementary VHS and similar video formats (i.e. bootleg recordings and copies) circulating in private and public spheres. Spectators were invited not only to be TV consuming audiences, but also how shows and TV set-ups integrated and sometimes pretended to transform the viewer into a participant of the show. TV programmes spread the conviction that subjects had the ability to shape their own body.
Bodies and health on television—and, more generally the interrelationship of the history of health and bodies—and the history of the various TV formats has not been extensively researched, in particular among the populations living under socialism and in transition to market-economy. The conference seeks to analyse how television and its evolving formats—contemporary, similar and yet differing in national broadcast contexts—expressed and staged bodies and health from local, regional, national and international perspectives. The conference seeks to better understand the role that TV, as a modern visual mass media, has played in what may be cast as the transition from a national bio-political public health paradigm at the beginning of the twentieth century, to alternative societal forms of the late twentieth century when (supposedly) “better” and “healthier” lives were increasingly shaped by market forces.
co-organised by ERC BodyCapital with the CERCEC (Centre for Russian, Caucasian and Central European Studies, EHESS), Paris, France.
[Online Conference] Locating Medical Television. The Televisual Spaces of Medicine and Health in the 20th Century
An International Conference organised by ERC BodyCapital & the Science Museum Dana Research Centre, with the support of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin.
11-13 November 2020
Orginally scheduled for 18-20 March 2020 at the Science Museum Dana Research Centre in London, UK, the Locating Medical Television conference was rescheduled and held as an online event. We were disappointed that we could not meet in person or take the opportunity to explore the Science Museum, but we were pleased to bring together a rich programme of presentations and discussions, to view some films and chat about them in virtual coffee breaks and a pub night. See the programme below for links to the recorded presentations, films and further reading!
Medical television programmes, across their history, have had specific relationships to places and spaces.
On the one level, they have represented medical and health places: consulting rooms, hospitals, the home, community spaces, public health infrastructures and the rest. As television-producers have represented these places, there has been an interaction with the developing capabilities of television technologies and grammars. Moreover, producers have borrowed their imaginaries of medical and health places from other media (film, photographs, museum displays etc.) and integrated, adjusted and reformulated them into their work.
But medical television has also worked spatially in the political sense of being broadcast internationally, at the national level, and locally, interacting with differing regimes and polities. It may include regional and local broadcast as well as straddling public-private divides, including pay television, advertisement and audience measurement.
At both levels, medical television has served to represent familiar and unfamiliar locations and medical modes back to patients and medical or health practitioners.
This third conference on medical television in the framework of the ERC funded BodyCapital project (following Broadcasting health and disease organised with Wellcome Collection in 2017 and Tele(visualing) Health organised with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2018) and in a joint venture with the Science Museum London Dana Research Centre intends to locate medical television more precisely – it intends to engage (medical) TV history with recent questions concerning the relevance of space within and beyond national borders. By comparative approaches, or under consideration of (sometimes contradictory) local, national and global developments, the conference intends to address the following themes:
· Locating medical television within global, national or local markets, politics and polities.
· Locating medical television as a means of new globally influenced medical communication in the public sphere from publicizing medical breakthroughs and frontier research to disseminating public health messages
· How television has represented medical location, and how that has depended on available technology and technique.
· Locating medical television within health communication and mediation including fairs, museums and collection displays.
· Comparisons with and transitions to other medical media, including exhibitions and displays, and film.
Papers and discussion focus on national, regional or even local frameworks and aims to consider the history of health-related (audio-) visuals from entangled comparative perspectives or as a history of transfers.
PROGRAMME Recordings of the presentations are available - just click on the presentation title.
Wednesday 11 Nov 2020 - Session 1. Locating themes of medical television
Christian Bonah (Université de Strasbourg), Anja Laukötter (Université de Strasbourg/MPIHD-Berlin) and Tim Boon (Science Museum): Introductory presentation
David Cantor (Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social (IDES), Buenos Aires): Pollution and Purification: Media and the Metaphors of Cancer and the Gangster, 1930-1970
Lukas Herde (Université de Strasbourg): “There will be more about older lovers…” Television and the promotion of health and sexual wellbeing in later life
Amélie Kratz (Université de Strasbourg): When children come into the kitchen. Children’s cooking shows in the 1950’s and the televised kitchen
- Discussed in the presentation: 'Biscuit de Savoie' Le Goûter (1958, RTF)
(Note: To view full films on Medfilm, use Connexion SSO in top right hand corner to connect via your institution.)
Stephen Gene Morris (University of Kent): Televisual accounts of mindfulness: Locating meditation as therapy
- Discussed in the presentation: 'Decade' Horizon (1979, BBC): 25:50-29:50. (Apologies, access is limited to UK viewers.)
Thursday 12 Nov 2020 - Session 2. Bodies, medical spaces and television mediation
Keynote: Jérôme Bourdon (Tel Aviv University): Liveness and the theatre of emotions: the televised body in media history
- Recent articles by Jérôme Bourdon for background reading:
Laura Niebling (Regensburg University): The camera in the operating room: Early medical television as a telemedicine device in the United States, 1920s-1950s
Christian Bonah & Joël Danet (Université de Strasbourg): On the road again. Car travel, the televisual narrative of medical practices in rural regions
- Discussed in the presentation:
(Note: To view full films, use Connexion SSO in top right hand corner to connect to the platform via your institution. If you cannot connect, please send an email to request connection details.)
Tim Snelson (University of East Anglia): Shock Treatments: televising electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) during the long-1960s
Hannah Selby (University of Brighton): Locating the treatment of mental health on British Public Service television
- Discussed in the presentation:
Film screening: Psychiatric contention onscreen in the 1960s. Organised in collaboration with the East Anglia Film Archive (EAFA).
Screening of BBC Wednesday Play In Two Minds (1967)
Q&A with its director, the legendary British filmmaker Ken Loach (Sorry We Missed You (2019), I, Daniel Blake (2016), The Wind the Shakes the Barely (2006), Kes (1970)) moderated by Tim Snelson, director of the EAFA.
Friday 13 Nov 2020 - Session 3. Television between local, national and international political framings
Keynote: John Ellis (Royal Holloway, University of London): What Television Could and Could Not Achieve: Lessons from the Hands-on History of Television Technologies
- Please visit the Adapt TV project website where all findings and publications are accessible
- Recent publication for background reading: Nick Hall, John Ellis, eds., 2020, Hands On Media History. A new methodology in the humanities and social sciences (Routledge)
Patricia Holland (Independent researcher): The politics of medical television across the 1980s
Jean-Philippe Heurtin (Université de Strasbourg): Television staging and reception of medical scenes in the French telethon
Sandra Schnädelbach (Université de Strasbourg/MPIHD-Berlin): (Un)Healthy Tunes: Evaluations of Body, Mind and Music in Socialist Television
David Freis (University of Münster): Televising the Future: The 1970 Houston–Davos TV Broadcast and the Future of Medicine in the Space Age
Sheryl Hamilton (Carlton University): When the medium really is the message: CDC-TV, health promotion and the hybrid televisual
- Discussed in the presentation: CDC-TV (2015)
[Spring school] Audiovisuals and internet archives: Histories of healthy bodies in the 21st century
ERC BodyCapital Spring school 2019
Audiovisuals and internet archives: Histories of healthy bodies in the 21st century
Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
1-4 April 2019
The Audiovisuals and internet archives: Histories of healthy bodies in the 21st century spring school invites young researchers to engage in four days of intensive discussion and hands-on activities on the relation between the history of the healthy body, body politics, and the Internet at the turn of the twenty-first century (roughly 1990s-2010). The spring school takes a transnational perspective and focus on developments in Germany, France and Great Britain.
Participants were introduced to internet archive resources, as well as to history of twenty-first century health issues. The aim of the spring school was to equip young researchers with the knowledge to begin interrogating the Internet as an object and as a source of historical investigation, with a particular focus on audiovisuals. The participants were confronted with largely unchartered waters and navigated alongside historians of the Internet and historians of health, as new research tools are developed and tested for working with new/recent media technologies. What multimedia resources were in use in the early years of the Internet (i.e., graphic and administrative technologies)? What modes of configuration were used or preferred (text and image, hypertext uses, video)? How is the Internet used as a historical source? How does one use web archives in historical research? Can web archives be used to trace an audiovisual history?
The ERC BodyCapital research centres on audio-visual representations of the body in the twentieth century, up to the birth of YouTube in 2005. BodyCapital considers the birth of the Internet as the point at which film and television were succeeded as modes of mass communication, which presented a new space for democratised content and new forms of expression and sociability. At the forefront of the Internet are the broad potential of multimedia and the logic of networking practices of mass audience. It has consequently opened up a new field of distribution within and responding to known structures (institutions, companies, traditional media) whilst reconfiguring relationships between the mass media and its publics. In this sense, the Internet has established a mode of interactivity, for example inspiring individual initiatives and the creation of personal sites.The ERC project researchers, in Berlin and Strasbourg, are working on a comparative history between Germany, France and Great Britain and the transformative processes that led to a shift from comprehensive healthcare in the “welfare state” model to new ideas of human capital and the healthy body as a form of individual capital. In particular, they focus on the economic factors driving these transformations. The primary source material is visual mass media, from historical non-fiction films to television shows and internet videos. Amateur films are additionally considered, offering a point of comparison and potentially reveals a different medial logic.
Working from the hypothesis that our understanding of the body in an era of neoliberal environments and structures is linked with new creations of subjects, the project aims to historicize the developments that have led to this. It asks how the rise of the “healthy self” can be better described and historically situated, and inquires into the social, political, and economic contexts that have contributed to and furthered this development.
The project focuses on four topics:
- The history of food and nutrition;
- The history of exercise and sports;
- The history of sexuality and reproduction;
- The history of dependence and addiction (medicine, drugs, alcohol).
In building the historical foundation of the Internet era in the BodyCapital perspective, we encounter new modes of representations and practices of the body that the Internet favored: webcam uses, first artist creations, reuse of traditional contents (photographs and films), amongst others.
The spring school included talks and workshops with experts including Niels Brügger, Valérie Schafer, and Sophie Gebeil, a field trip to the European Audiovisual Observatory and the Council of Europe, and a film screening on The body on the screen on the screen at the Maison de l'Image. Further, the spring school benefited from collaboration with the French Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) and the Bibliothèque National Universitaire de Strasbourg. Participants also presented on their own research projects.
The spring school will be held at the Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France. The spring school is organized as part of the research project “The Healthy Self as Body Capital: Individuals, Market-Based Societies, and Body Politics in Visual Twentieth Century Europe (BodyCapital)” funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and led by Christian Bonah (University of Strasbourg) and Anja Laukötter (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin). And with the cooperation and collaboration of the Bibliothéque Universitaire de Strasbourg (BNUS), the Institut National Audiovisuel (INA-Grand Est) and Vidéo Les Beaux Jours.
[Workshop] Cellulite to Celluloid, Surgery to Screen: Health, Medicine and Science in the AV Archive
Despite being among the most expensive and time-consuming items that records professionals deal with, audio-visual archives remain under-appreciated and underused by historians. The legacy of difficult-to-access screen material has combined with a long-standing reluctance to deal with AV as complex texts, meaning that documents continue to dominate in historical work. Film, video, broadcast television and the cinematic screen have nonetheless been indispensable in the biological, medical and social sciences for training, promoting and debating on issues of the body and mind in the twentieth century. But although time-based
screen media are unmatched in their facility to simultaneously convey complex intersections of the corporeal, the psychological, and the practical, the value of historic AV for empirical work is only just beginning to garner serious and committed attention.
BodyCapital - an ERC - funded research project specialising in the use of AV material as a primary source for investigating the history of health, health concepts and healthcare – has thereby convened a knowledge exchange between archivists working in the fields of science and medicine, and researchers from the project. During this mini-conference, archivist participants and BodyCapital researchers/historians will share their experiences and observations of working with science and medicine-oriented AV. The principal aim is to identify common ground between academic researchers and archivists working in the fields of history of health, medicine and science (broadly defined) in order to pinpoint areas for future research collaboration, and in consideration of where new audiences for the health/medicine/science AV archive might be developed. Core research questions will be; what is the research value of the medico-scientific AV archive? Where and why should AV archive be utilised as an object of investigation? What are the pitfalls and benefits of working with AV material (within the specific remit of the BodyCapital themes, and in also in the practical undertaking of further research)? These topics will be addressed through the direct screening and discussion of AV archive, as selected by participants. By allowing for the free discussion of AV objects of interest, it is hoped that this event will provide both archivists and researchers alike a rare opportunity to debate within a research forum outside of their usual, respective remits.
[Conference] Tele(visualising) Health: TV, Public Health, its Enthusiasts and its Publics
Co-organised with the Centre for History in Public Health - London School of Health and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM),
Tele(visualising) Health: TV, Public Health, its Enthusiasts and its Publics
The 2019 conference on the history of television and public health was held :
27 February-1 March 2019
Dickens Library, Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London UK
Televisions began to appear in the homes of large numbers of the public in Europe and North America after World War II. This coincided with a period in which ideas about the public’s health, the problems that it faced and the solutions that could be offered, were changing. The threat posed by infectious diseases was receding, to be replaced by chronic conditions linked to lifestyle and individual behaviour.
Public health professionals were enthusiastic about how this new technology and mass advertising could reach out to individuals in the population with the new message about lifestyle and risk. TV offered a way to reach large numbers of people with public health messages; it symbolised the post war optimism about new directions in public health.
But it could also act as a contributory factor to those new public health problems. Watching TV was part of a shift towards more sedentary lifestyles, and also a vehicle through which products that were damaging to health, such as alcohol, cigarettes and unhealthy food, could be advertised to the public. Population health problems could be worsened by TV viewing.
How should we understand the relationship between TV and public health? What are the key changes and continuities over time and place? How does thinking about the relationship between public health and TV change our understanding of both?
In this three-day conference, we explored questions such as:
How did the enthusiasm develop for TV within public health?
How were shifts in public health, problems, policies and practices represented on TV?
How was TV used to improve or hinder public health?
What aspects of public health were represented on TV, and what were not?
How did the public respond to health messages on TV?
What were the perceived limitations of TV as a mass medium for public health?
In what way was TV different from other forms of mass media in relation to public health?
How were institutions concerned with the public’s health present – and staged – on TV broadcasts?
The conference brought together scholars from different fields (such as, but not limited to, history, history of science, history of medicine, communication, media and film studies, television studies) working on the history of television in Great Britain, France and Germany (West and East) (the focus of the ERC BodyCapital project), but also other European countries, North and South America, Russia, Asia or other countries and areas.
[Workshop] From body capital to the Internet. New media, new modes of representation, new uses
A two-day workshop on the history of the internet and history through the internet, co-organised with INA Grand-est.
10-11 December 2019
ERC BodyCapital is a research project centred on audio-visual representations of the body in the twentieth century, up to the birth of YouTube in 2005. BodyCapital considers the birth of the Internet as the point at which film and television were succeeded as modes of mass communication, wherein a new space for democratised content and new forms of expression and sociability was created and developed. The Internet has foregrounded both the broad potential of multimedia and the logic of networking practices for the mass audience. It has consequently opened up a new field of distribution within and responding to known structures (institutions, companies, traditional media) whilst reconfiguring relationships between the mass media and its publics. In this sense, Internet has established a mode of interactivity, inspiring individual initiatives through the creation of personal sites.
For the historian, however, the Internet as a channel for communications and thereby the historical record represents a new and largely uncharted landscape with no overriding, established mode of empirical navigation. How, then, should the internet be approached, both as a site of enquiry and as an historical object? Where and how does the historian begin to locate evanescent sources of data that have rotted or disappeared with barely a trace? In other words, how does the historian even begin to approach the Internet as a periodization/ channel/ medium or repository? Rather than creating a history of the Internet per se, this BodyCapital workshop is concerned with situating and characterizing audiovisuals that portray the body (mise-en-scene of the body) contained within it.
Naturally such a process must begin with understanding the historical foundations of the Internet era. This BodyCapital workshop is therefore comprised of a series of presentations and of teaching sessions with interactive participation. The contributions will first familiarise participants with the history of the Internet and the logic of multimedia. Then they will focus on techniques and methodologies that might be used by historians specialising in the body, medicine and health looking to mine primary source material contained within the historic web. A special feature of the workshop will be a case study in the shape of a collaboration with the Institut national de l'audiovisuel [INA] who, in combination with the Bibliotheque national de France, shares responsibility for the legal deposit of French web material, archiving audiovisual media related web sites. Overall, this workshop aims to establish a chronology of the history of the Internet and to outline appropriate methods of analysis.
Overall, the aim of the workshop is to equip historians with the knowledge to begin interrogating the internet as an object of historical investigation. What multimedia resources were then in use (i.e., graphic and administrative technologies)? What modes of configuration were used or preferred (text and image, hypertext uses)? Which pioneer sites have contributed to Internet history/historiography/ Internet-as-object??In building the historical foundation of the Internet era in the BodyCapital perspective, we will encounter new modes of representations of the body that the internet favoured: webcam uses (cf. Fred Forest), first artist creations, reuse of traditional contents (photographs and films).
[Workshop] Excess? Images of Body, Health, Morality and Emotions across the Media (2018)
The concept of excess is ambivalent: It can signify phenomena ranging from certain religious practices to drug abuse to aspects of consumer culture; it can be an empowering self description
or a stigmatizing judgment. This openness is also reflected in a variety of closely related terms that are sometimes shared by multiple languages, such as “ecstasy,” “exstase,” and “Ekstase” in English, French, and German, but which might also be associated with divergent concepts like “frenzy,” “ivresse,” or “Rausch.” The workshop seeks to analyze these facets of excess and asks how excess has been perceived and constructed in different media. It aims to explore how images of the body, health, morality and emotions varied over history, across cultures, and how the media themselves have contributed to the ways in which the concept of excess has been shaped and used.
A defining feature of excess is its liminality: It generally denotes some kind of transgression and is in this sense a relational term, referring to a normative order that has been exceeded. Often excess evokes negative associations like abundance and waste. In terms of the body and health, exhaustion, burn-out, addiction and overconsumption are phenomena that usually come to mind. Nevertheless, the transgressive dimension of the excessive, like the related concept of ecstasy, has also been seen in a positive light, viewing overflow and boundlessness as productive, enabling forces that can release unexpected potentials and bodily resources. Defining what constitutes excess is thus itself a matter of measurement, bound up with the negotiation of social limits and norms. As a cultural practice, excess and how it is defined are closely connected to changing ideas about the body, health, and emotions. Definitions of excess based on ancient affect theory differ from nineteenth-century conceptions based on thermodynamic models of bodily functions; mechanical views on the body and its “drives” took a different perspective on the risks of overflow and abundance than did models focused on energy and nerves. Nevertheless, moral panics about practices like new styles of dancing, forms of collective leisure or party cultures labeled excessive have often been based on similar discourses that can be traced back to pre-modern times. Finally, during the twentieth century, understandings of health underwent considerable changes, shifting from a focus on protection against disease to an understanding of actively preserving and securing health. This, too, had implications for conceptions of what constitutes excess.
How are different understandings and measurements of risk and security reflected in varying conceptions of excess? How can contemporary conceptions of the “preventive self”, the “exhausted self”, or the “stressed self” be confirmed, challenged, extended through historical perspectives on excess? What do diverse images and practices of excess tell us about the cultural formation of health norms and how these norms are intertwined with moral norms and emotional practices? In which historical and cultural contexts has excess been portrayed as a figure of growth, overgrowth, or regeneration? Which sciences and fields of knowledge have historically informed images of excess?
The two-day workshop seeks to explore these questions. It places a special focus on the media through which excessive practices are portrayed and how images of excess vary or circulate across different media, such as printed texts, photographs, different film genres and television. How have these mediums themselves shaped and (re)negotiated concepts of body, health and emotions? In what ways was the medium itself part of or seen as constituting an excessive practice? Considering visual media played an increasingly important role in the run of the twentieth century, analyses of visual material are particularly welcome. A central goal of the workshop is to open up an international exchange and to connect perspectives from the history of science, the history of emotions, the history of the body and media history in order to shed new light on a history of health as a cultural history.
Organiser and contact: Sandra Schnadelbach, ERC BodyCapital Postdoctoral Researcher
7–8 June 2018
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin/Center for the History of
[Spring school] Visual History in the Twentieth Century: Bodies, Practices and Emotions (2018)
The twentieth century is the century in which modern mass media irreversibly permeated and transformed nearly all aspects of politics and society. This can be exemplified by the impact that film and television had on medicine, health policy and education, from early medical films that made new images of illness and therapy accessible to health experts, to the “Kulturfilme” of the 1920s that propagated a modern conception of the body to cinema-goers, to educational films produced by the state for use in schools, to ads informing people about AIDS prevention and health talk shows on TV. Visual mass media are constantly reflecting and shaping our conceptions and perceptions of the body and health, as well as the bodily and health practices we engage in. For their part, they are often influenced by economics. Seen in this way, a history of the body, embodiment and emotions in the twentieth century is also a history of the mass media.
The spring school Visual History in the Twentieth Century: Bodies, Practices, and Emotions invites participants to engage in five days of intensive discussion on the relation between the history of the body, body politics, and film and television in the twentieth century. The spring school will take a transnational perspective and focus particular on developments in Germany, France and Great Britain.
The spring school is organized as part of the research project “The Healthy Self as Body Capital: Individuals, Market-Based Societies, and Body Politics in Visual Twentieth Century Europe” funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and led by Christian Bonah (University of Strasbourg) and Anja Laukötter (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin).
The ERC project researchers, in Berlin and Strasbourg, are working on a comparative history between Germany, France and Great Britain and the transformative processes that led to a shift from comprehensive healthcare in the “welfare state” model to new ideas of human capital and the healthy body as a form of individual capital. In particular, they focus on the economic factors driving these transformations. The primary source material is visual mass media, from historical non-fiction films to television shows and internet videos. Amateur films are additionally considered, which offers a point of comparison and potentially reveals a different medial logic.
The project draws, in part, on the work of Michel Foucault and his critique of the modern state. Working from the hypothesis that our understanding of the body in an era of neoliberalism is formed by neoliberal theories, the project aims to historicize the developments that have led to this. It asks how the rise of the ideology of the “healthy self” can be better described and historically situated, and inquires into the social, political, and economic contexts that have contributed to and furthered this development.
The project focuses on four topics:
- The history of food and nutrition;
- The history of exercise and sports;
- The history of sexuality and reproduction;
- The history of dependence and addiction (medicine, drugs, alcohol).
The spring school seeks to familiarize young scholars with the topic “Visual History in the Twentieth Century: Bodies, Practices, and Emotions” and bring them into contact with experts in the field. It will introduce them to relevant theoretical approaches and they will discuss source material together in order to tackle questions like:
- What theories and approaches of media analysis and historical contextualization are useful for work on this topic?
- What primary and secondary sources are relevant and how can we get access to them?
- How can we identify and analyze emotions, forms of subjectivation, and perceptions of the body in historical media?
- What can we say about audiences and their use and reception of the various media discussed?
The spring school includes talks and workshops with experts, a field trip to the technical collection of the Potsdam Film Museum, a roundtable discussion, and film viewings. Further, the springschool will benefit from a cooperation with the French Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) and will be attended by the director of the INAthèque, Claude Mussou. Additionally, Prof. Dr. Frank Bösch (Director of the Center for Historical Research (ZZF), Potsdam) will hold a keynote lecture on “War, Films, and Emotions, 1895–1960.” Participants will also be invited to present on their own research projects.
Organisers and contact: Anja Laukötter and Philipp Stiasny
9-13 April 2018
Max-Planck-Institute für Human Development (Center for the History of Emotions), Berlin, Allemagne
[Conference] Broadcasting health and disease. Bodies, markets, and television, 1950-1990 (2018)
Throughout the age of television health and body-related subjects have been presented and diffused into the public sphere via a multitude of forms, ranging from short films in health education programmes to school television, from professional training to TV ads, from documentary and reality TV shows to TV news, but also as complementary VHS and similar video formats circulating in private and public spheres. From live transmission of daunting surgical operations or accounts of medication scandals in the 1950s and 1960s to participatory aerobic workouts or militant AIDS documentaries, bodies and health on television and more genuinely the interrelationship of the history of health and bodies and the history of the various TV formats has not been extensively researched. Our assumption is that such audio-visuals are not conceived merely as a mirror or expression of what is observed, but that visuals should be regarded as a distinct, interactive performative power of mass media societies.
The three-day conference aims to investigate how television programmes in their multiplicity approached issues like medical progress and its limits, healthy behaviour or new forms of exercise by adapting them to TV formats and programming. A telling example of this is the US born aerobics movement as it was brought to TV in Europe, in shows such as Gym Tonic (from 1982) in France, Enorm in Form (from 1983) in Germany or the Green Goddess on BBC Breakfast Time (from 1983) in Great Britain. Contemporary, similar and yet differing in national broadcast contexts, the conference seeks to analyse how television and its evolving formats expressed and staged bodies, health and in the above example fitness from local, regional, national and international perspectives. How spectators were invited not only to be TV consuming audiences, but how shows and TV set-ups integrated and sometimes pretended to transform the viewer into a participant of the show. TV programmes spread the conviction that subjects had the ability to shape their own body.
Further, we take into account the long-term evolution of televisual editorialization and staging, notably as it focused on the intimate and adapted to consumer/market logic. We ask what effects these had on the preventive information and the messages related to current health and medical techniques that were diffused.
The conference seeks to better understand the role that TV, as a modern visual mass media, has played in what may be cast as the transition from a national bio-political public health paradigm at the beginning of the twentieth century to societal forms of the late twentieth century when better and healthier lives were increasingly shaped by market forces.
The conference is organized by the ERC funded research group BodyCapital, and hosted by Wellcome Collection.
19-21 February 2018
Wellcome Trust, 215 Euston Road, Londres, UK
[Conference] Inedits: Amateur films. Memory of Europe (2017)
ERC BodyCapital is pleased to co-organise, with the 27th Annual meeting of the INEDITS association, a European conference on amateur films and home videos and an exchange between researchers and cinematheques.
23 November 2017 19h30-22h00: Cinéma l'Odyssée, rue Francs Bourgeois, Strasbourg
Public screening of films from the INEDITS members' collections on the theme "Body and Water," with presentations by the each of the participating film archives and commentary by Dr. Christian Bonah (University of Strasbourg) and Dr. Anja Laukötter (MPIHD, Berlin), in charge of the research project BodyCapital.
24 November 2017 8h30-17h30 : Amphithéâtre de l’ISIS, 8 rue Gaspard Monge, Strasbourg
Round table 1. Collecting, preserving and using amateur films in university settings
How do universities contribute to the preservation and promotion of amateur films in Europe? Through the presentation of several studies, we will try to understand the specificities of these projects and collections in relation to the work carried out in other film archives. This will be also an opportunity to discuss the models of financing heritage collections of amateur films in Europe.
Round table 2. Researchers and archives
How to build a research project on amateur cinema? What relationships do researchers have with the film archives and archivists that maintain these collections? How to facilitate the work of scholars within the archives? And by what means do they contribute to the daily work of film archives?
Round table 3. Watching and studying films: circulation, rights and protection.
How to make films available to students and researchers at the university, while respecting intellectual property rights? What legal barriers must be overcome? Similarly, how can we associate amateur films from different European collections within the same web platform and combine the practices and identity of each partner? Through the legal questions posed by the MedFilm platform and the current European project Private Europe, this workshop aims to stimulate exchanges between researchers and film archives, and between archivists.
[French-English translation will be available.]
24 November 2017 18h30-21h00 : Salle de conférence de la MISHA, 5 allée du Général Rouvillois, Strasbourg
Pubic screening, with a preprogramme by MIRA, followed by Journal filmé d’un exil. A film by Magali Magne (France, 52 minutes, 2017).
[Workshop] “Capital”: founding and current principles of a concept. (2) Body, capital and media studies (2017)
The principal terrain of the BodyCapital research program concerns films and audio-visuals, as well as their content and their circulation, and hinges on the notion of body capital. It is herein necessary to take stock of economics and sociology work and discussions with regard to the notion of body capital. It is additionally necessary to think of how it has been used and/or criticised in media and film studies, information and communication studies and in visual anthropology.
The BodyCapital’s fourth workshop, “Capital”: founding and current principles of a concept. (2) Body, capital and media studies, aims to consider these particular fields. In effect, study of the visualisation of body capital entails conceiving media as a system with performative/production power of the body in itself, albeit without autonomizing this system. Here, we will interrogate and explore the complementary of media with the principles of market economy in terms of promotion or communication, of production/reproduction of cultural capital, and the visualisation of the body.
This workshop will take stock of literature and host discussions with a number of scholars from different disciplinary horizons, with the objective of deepening and strengthening the conceptual foundation of the BodyCapital programme.
27 & 28 June 2017
Salle Europe, MISHA, 5, allée du Général Rouvillois, Strasbourg
[Workshop] Wissenskaleidoskop. Spiegelungen interdisziplinärer Diskurse in Robert Reinerts Film Nerven, 1919 (2017)
Das Stummfilmdrama NERVEN von Robert Reinert (1872–1928), dessen Rezeption auf das zeitgenössische Publikum selbst traumatisierend gewirkt haben soll, macht sich zur Aufgabe, die „nervöse Epidemie“ innerhalb der deutschen Nachkriegsgesellschaft in Szene zu setzen. Der bildgewaltige „Momumental-Film“ kennzeichnet die Gesellschaft der Weimarer Republik als von verschiedensten traumatischen Verletzungen, horriblen Heimsuchungen und zwischenmenschlichen Dysfunktionen geprägt. In ihm wimmelt es nur so von Figuren, die zerrüttende psychologische Störungen infolge des Kriegs ausagieren bzw. diese größtenteils bis zu ihrem letalen Ende verkörpern.
NERVEN ist gesättigt von einem vielfältigen Diskurswissen, das aus Feldern wie demPsychoanalyse- und (Militär-)Neuropsychiatriediskurs der 1890er bis späten 1910er Jahre stammt (u. a. Kriegshysterie- und Neurasthenieforschung, Unbewusstes/Traumsequenzen, Wahnsinn/Psychose/Delirium/Angst, traumatische Neurose). Überdies verhandelt der Film politische Effekte der gescheiterten Novemberrevolution 1918/19 sowie Aspekte der Massenpsychologie und setzt sich mit Kriminologiewissen (Gewaltverbrechen, Tötungs- und Vergewaltigungsphantasien, Euthanasie) sowie Freikörperkultur und Naturmystik um 1900 (lebende Zwischentitel und quasi-biblisches, archaisches Filmende) auseinander. Er touchiert (sexualwissenschaftliche) Debatten zu erodierenden Geschlechterverhältnissen (Mutter-Sohn, Mann-Frau) sowie christologische Implikationen in einem säkularisierten Zeitalter. Auf diese Weise reflektiert der Film historisches, historiographisches sowie soziopolitisches Wissen ebenso wie kultur-, philosophie-, medizin- und psychiatriegeschichtliche Diskursfacetten. Gegossen sind diese Diskursepartikel in eine expressionistisch anmutende hyperästhetisierte Filmsprache, die eine linear-gebrochene Montage, Überblendungen, Nahaufnahmen und Tiefendimensionen der Filmbilder favorisiert, die in der (auch musikalisch) restaurierten Fassung neu getintet wurden.
Veranstalter: Institut für Kulturwissenschaft an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in Kooperation mit
dem ERC BodyCapital (geleitet von Prof. Dr. Christian Bonah und Dr. Anja Laukötter)
Konzept und Organisation: Prof. Dr. Julia Babara Köhne (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für
Ort: Zentrallabor, Sophienstraße 22 A, 10178 Berlin, 2. Hinterhof, 2. OG
[Workshop] "Capital": Founding and current principles of a concept (1) Confronting economic history with Bourdieusian sociology (2017)
The BodyCapital project aims at a European 20th century history of changing healthy-self perceptions and practices conceived as economic history as cultural history including science and technology. Transforming our bodies into a capital and in generating individual receptiveness to the economization of health to the extent that individuals have come to internalize the adoption of such practices and devices, body labor and goods appear to be a particularly stable and valuable vantage point from which to address twentieth-century changes concerning health conceptions and practices, national health policies and politics and liberalizing market economies in Europe in an approach that may be termed as an economic health history from below.
Framing the object of study as body capital, our central question consists in asking how economic capitalist thought and evaluation have become a habitus (Bourdieu, 1979; Dalloz, 2013) internalized by individuals (Elias, 1969; Fassin, 2004) to the point that in health practices today, state-imposed public health programs and liberal market organization feed, and feed into individual citizens’ self-quantifying and self-optimizing practices, thereby making them appear evident.
Workshop WS3, “Capital”: founding and current principles of a concept (1). Confronting economic history with Bourdieusian sociology intends to confront the general assumptions of our project with classical views from economic history attempting to further test the soundness of our central hypothesis and to debunk possible “impensées”. Similarly we intend to submit our intellectual “braconnage” of Bourdieu’s concept of “symbolic capital” to further scrutiny.
Visuals do not merely mirror or express what is observed but as media are endowed with their own distinct, interactive performative power. This workshop will inquire their essential and innovative complementarities with economic market principles in terms of promotion/communication. Visuals have been conceived since the interwar period as indispensable tools for the “invisible government” (Bernays, 1928), the alter ego to the ‘invisible hand” of the market, taking the form of promotion-communication and corporate public relations.
4 & 5 May 2017
Université de Strasbourg, Salle Afrique, MISHA, 5 allée du Général Rouvillois, Strasbourg
[Conference] BodyCapital Inaugural Conference (2017)
The inaugural conference of the ERC BodyCapital research group held in Strasbourg (23-25 February 2017) brings together topic and media related scholars from the fields of history, history of medicine, media studies, film studies and film history. The conference will approach and explore the broad field of the project’s research agenda with four distinct, yet overlapping, axes:
This panel will explore developments and relationships between the formation, activities and goals of global organizations (ranging from UNESCO to WHO) in casting and spreading their aims via visuals. It will focus on how global institutions conceptualized health issues as global issues and the role visuals played in these efforts. Moreover the panel will focus on local organized configurations (such as the amateur film movement) and how these groups used visuals as an expression of a new individual and collective understanding of health.
This panel will explore the connections and relationships in the history of medicine, between different scientific fields (from psychiatry, psychology to neurobiology and chemistry) and various industrial actors (such as pharmaceutical industries). The panel will not only explore how these different power players constructed and worked on the consumer with and within visuals, but also how the (economic) interests overlap between different fields and countries over the twentieth century.
The third panel highlights the role of visual media in two different agencies and their possible interactions. The efforts and practices of state regulation will be explored in considering how different European health systems shaped the efforts to enforce/educate its citizens to live healthy lives and how economic interests played out. Moreover, by focusing on the individuals’ perspectives the panel will not only explore how individual people reacted to these state efforts, but also how individuals actively performed health. Thus the panel will focus on practices of internalizations of health practices that have been described in concepts such as the “preventive self” (Lengwiler/Madarász 2010).
The fourth panel explores how visuals play out in various developments within European countries and the USA, ranging from phenomena described as different forms of collectivization and distinction. On the one hand we find different forms of health related group configurations, such as self-help groups (for example, AIDS activists, AnonymousAlcoholics or obesity support groups), to promote new health related attitudes and practices. At the same time we find individuals organized in different distinct activity groups (such as Aerobics or vegan movements) that promote not only a new healthy life, but function as a new marker of social difference and class boundaries.
23-25 February 2017
Salle de conférence de la MISHA, 5 allée Général Rouvillois, 67000 Strasbourg
[Workshop] The circulation of body images within the frame of television (2017)
Jalon du projet ERC BodyCapital , dont l’axe de réflexion est l’impact des images du corps élaborées pour les vecteurs de diffusion audiovisuelle au sein de l’Europe du XXe siècle, cette journée d’études propose de se concentrer sur le contexte médiatique propre à la télévision française. Comment s’est-elle emparée des sujets de santé et de bien-être ? Selon quels choix éditoriaux, quelles mises en scène ? S’agit-il de se borner à relayer un discours institutionnel, ministériel, ou marchand, ou bien d’y introduire l’approche critique propre au travail journalistique ? Cette approche est tantôt spécifique, tantôt globale, tantôt privilégie une émission à la démarche originale, tantôt confronte l’ensemble des programmes sur le sujet. Par une étude des contenus qui ont déterminé une décision de censure, nous verrons également par quels choix de sujet, par quels types de traitements la télévision a cherché à repousser les limites éditoriales qui lui ont été assignées. Il s’agit enfin d’examiner la place du corps dans l’ensemble de ces images : corps sexué, corps anonyme, corps pourvu d’aura, corps profilé, tête, tronc, corps en entier, en action, au repos.
6 February 2017
INA-Grand Est, 31 Rue Kageneck, 67000 Strasbourg
[Workshop] War medicine, medicine in war and non-fiction film: information, communication, propaganda ? (2016)
En mars 1915 l’armée française établit la Section cinématographique de l’Armée (SCA) s’appuyant sur un accord entre les quatre grands producteurs cinématographiques français (Pathé, Gaumont, Éclair and Eclipse) pour mettre à la disposition de l’armée ses opérateurs afin de documenter la guerre. Sous surveillance des autorités militaires les prises de vues alimentent les actualités des producteurs. Leur objectif est triple : illustrer la force matérielle et morale de l’armée française; documenter par l’image les destructions par l’armée allemande; et enfin présenter à la population la vie militaire quotidienne depuis les tranchés jusqu’aux équipements et institutions.
Dans le contexte allemand on constate une évolution similaire et un peu plus tardive avec la création de la Universal Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA). Créée en 1917 à Berlin, l’UFA établit une section enseignement qui produit des films sanitaires en temps de guerre avec l’aide financière du gouvernement allemand. De manière analogue le Art Department of the Army Medical Museum se voit investit d’une nouvelle mission et structure en novembre 1917, le “Instruction Laboratory” et la American Armed Forces’ Commission on Training Camp Activities (CTCA) qui produisent entre fin 1917 et mars 1919 une centaine de films en rapport avec l’effort de guerre. En Russie, le comité Skobelev, novice en la matière, se voit doté dès décembre 1914 du monopole des tournages dans la zone de front : la vente des images exclusives doit financer l’assistance aux blessés qui est la mission première du Comité. Avec le recrutement des meilleurs opérateurs des studios privés, notamment Pathé Russie, et les dépenses en hausse, le Comité passe rapidement à la production d’actualités de guerre pour le public russe, puis de documentaires de propagande (1915).
Dans le cadre de cette documentation cinématographique de la guerre les films à sujet médical et sanitaire sont nombreux et concernant tant des films cliniques au sujet des troubles nerveux des commotionnés (shell-shock) que des prises de vue des hôpitaux de front et des transports de malades. Ces films sont habituellement archivés ou perdus. Un intérêt particulier peut être attribué à une série d’une quinzaine de film cliniques consacrés aux commotionnés, victimes de troubles nerveux, filmés parfois nus pour des usages d’instruction militaire et parfois destinés à l’ensemble de la population.
Dans le cadre de cette médecine de guerre / médecine en guerre la journée d’étude examinera (a) la mise en scène de la vie et de la santé de guerre tant pour des spectateurs militaires que pour la population dans son ensemble ; (b) l’évolution de la mise en scène dans sa forme et son contenu de la Première à la Deuxième Guerre mondiale ; et (c) comment ces films comme moyens de communication sont associés à d’autres formes incluant des brochures, livrets, affiches, cartes postales et éventuellement la radio suggérant de prendre en considération ces films dans leur contexte plus large de dispositifs de communication.
Comment filme-t-on en France, en Allemagne, en Angleterre et en Russie l'épreuve que fait subir aux chairs et aux esprits la guerre mécanique? Comment fait-on la promotion sur les fronts Ouest et Est de la Grande Guerre de l'organisation des systèmes sanitaires efficaces, dont l'objectif est le renvoi sous les drapeaux du maximum de malades et de blessés? Comment le cinéma permet-il de reconstruire en images le statut social d'hommes diminués, dont la science s'évertue à pallier les évidents défauts ?
Co-organised by ERC BodyCapital and CIERA – MedFilm
7 November 2016
Salle des fêtes de l’Hôpital civil de Strasbourg, 1 place de l’Hôpital, 67000 Strasbourg