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Imagining IllnessPublic Health and Visual Culture$
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David Serlin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648221

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648221.001.0001

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Empathy and Objectivity

Empathy and Objectivity

Health Education through Corporate Publicity Films

(p.62) 4. Empathy and Objectivity
Imagining Illness

Kirsten Ostherr

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter compares the ideological work done by two public health films: Medicine in the Tropics produced in 1948 by Lewis Sound Films for the Firestone Plantations Company, and Medicine of Liberation: Aspects of Primary Health Care in Mozambique produced in 1978 for the World Health Organization. The chapter takes the reader step-by-step through both films, shot in the African nation of Liberia to serve the dual functions of corporate publicity and health education, to unravel the complex visual and audio messages with which they engage. By comparing commercial endeavors with a film produced by a nongovernmental organization, it highlights how the techniques for presenting health education change over time to reflect the ideals of the producers and evolving theories of visual pedagogy. It argues that the presentation often seems to contradict the film’s stated aims, thus undermining its ostensibly educational and empathetic objectives.

Keywords:   public health, films, Medicine in the Tropics, Lewis Sound Films, Firestone Plantations Company, Medicine of Liberation, World Health Organization, Liberia, corporate publicity, health education

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