Liverpool Port Sanitary Authority rat-catchers dipping rats in buckets of petrol to kill fleas for plague control. Liverpool, England. Photograph, 1900/1920
Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH, The University of Cambridge)
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Unknown author Liverpool Port Sanitary Authority rat-catchers dipping rats in buckets of petrol to kill fleas for plague control. Liverpool, England. Photograph, 1900/1920 [digital image]. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/281097
The third pandemic of plague (in its bubonic and pneumonic clinical forms) struck the globe between 1894 and 1959. As Yersinia pestis spread from country to country and from continent to continent, it left behind it not only a trail of death and devastation, but also a vast visual archive. It was the first time that plague would reach and establish itself in all inhabited continents. But it was also the first time that any epidemic would be photographed. As plague spread from harbour to harbour, and amongst cities, towns and villages, so did photographs of the pandemic through reproductions in the daily and illustrated press. Rather than forming a homogeneous or linear visual narrative, these photographic documents provided diverse perspectives on the pandemic, which, more often than not, were not simply different from region to region, but in fact conflicting within any single locus of infection. Moreover this photographic production came to establish a new field of vision, what we may call “epidemic photography” which continues to inform the way in which we see, depict and imagine epidemics and their social, economic, and political impact in the age of Global Health.
With the exception of Suffolk where plague endured between 1906 and 1918, during the third pandemic the UK experienced only isolated outbreaks (e.g. Glasgow 1900). Nonetheless plague prevention policies were applied to UK ports, with fumigation of boats, rat-proofing and rat eradication used in vessels, wharves and harbours.
Plague, Rat, Flea, Sanitary Staff, Rat-Catcher, Harbour, Europe, United Kingdom, Liverpool
Europe, United Kingdom, Liverpool
Host Item: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/hc4yj7mq
The database "Photographs of the Third Plague Pandemic" was funded by an European Research Council Starting Grant (under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme/ERC grant agreement no 336564) for the project Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic, led by Dr Christos Lynteris (PI); The Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) of the University of Cambridge (2013-2018). The project would like to thank its postdoctoral researchers, Drs Lukas Engelmann, Nicholas H. A. Evans, Maurits Meerwijk, Branwyn Poleykett and Abhjit Sarkar, and its administrators Mss Teresa Abaurrea, Emma Hacking and Samantha Peel for their contribution to this database.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.28460
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