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Unhooking the Hookworm: The Rockefeller Foundation and Mediated Health
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5815-5641
2015 (English)In: Mediating Peace: Reconciliation through Visual Art, Music and Film / [ed] Sebastian Kim, Pauline Kollontai och Sue Yore, Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015, 335-350 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Before the 1948-founding of the World Health Organization, the International Health Board/Division (IHB) was the world’s leading agency for public health work. Its efforts emanated from Rockefeller Sanitary Commission (1909-1914), inaugurated to shape a health infrastructure in the American South and mainly to eradicate hookworms. The singling out of hookworms and the ”laziness epidemic” in the south was due to it being an easily identifiable, treatable, and preventable disease calling for public health initiatives.

IHB’s initial efforts were directed towards the British West Indies. My paper will discuss the international campaign strategies aimed at cultural reconciliation by eliminating differences in sanitary and social conditions worldwide. The political implications were considerate: the disease was associated with crime and degeneracy—and social activism and health campaigns came with an Americanization slant. IHB hoped to spread the European and American ”scientific model” of public health and make it a universal norm. In the process, scores of media were mobilized to spread medical awareness defined as a civilizing project. The Rockefeller-film Unhooking the Hookworm (1920) was the key educational tool. It became a centerpiece in the organization’s medial education and the film’s multiple versions neatly illustrate their search for a formula with an international appeal in trans-cultural contexts for diverse audiences. This text discuss campaigns initiated by the IHB in British Guiana, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, during the period 1914-1932. I will focus on the strategies, the problems encountered by health officers, the visual materials used—and the intricacies of local receptions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. 335-350 p.
, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 13
Keyword [en]
film, Rockefeller Foundation, Unhooking the Hookworm, peace-building, reconciliation
National Category
Studies on Film Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Cinema Studies; Peace and Conflict Research
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128768ISBN: 978-1-4438-8371-9OAI: diva2:916614
Film i upplysningens tjänst: hälsa och social aktivism i USA 1910-30
Swedish Research Council, 421-2010-1496
Available from: 2016-04-04 Created: 2016-04-04 Last updated: 2016-04-11Bibliographically approved

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