Branwyn Poleykett


Branwyn Poleykett is a postdoctoral research associate on the Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic project,

Her work draws upon archival research and ethnographic fieldwork to understand the historical, social and cultural determinants of health and illness in Africa. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Senegal and Tanzania and archival research in Madagascar, South Africa and Morocco.

Her research interests include global health and humanitarian medicine; anthropological approaches to health communication; the visual history of French colonial medicine and science; visual research methodologies including photo elicitation; and the decolonisation of global scientific pedagogy. She has recently begun work on the global history of the Senegalese diet and the interpretation and management of metabolic diseases in Dakar.

Dr Poleykett’s PhD examined the regulation of female commercial work in Dakar and the production of knowledge about instrumental intimacies and social, economic and bodily vulnerability. Her PhD research involved work on recruitment to transnational medical research and this stimulated her interest in the ethnographic study of sites of scientific research in Africa. She developed this research programme as a postdoctoral fellow with the Anthropologies of African Biosciences group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Cambridge. Based on fieldwork in Tanzania, her project explored how capacities in science are gained, distributed, experienced, and lived through time, and how scientific lives and scientific values are imagined and re-made in contemporary East Africa.

She is currently preparing a book manuscript based on archival and ethnographic research in Morocco and Senegal. A visual history of medical and scientific technical intervention, the book links the late colonial dismantling of the apparatuses for regulating epidemics with postcolonial technical cooperation for development. The book has three main goals: to reconsider the visual technologies of colonialism including medical portraiture and aerial photography; to interpret visual depictions of material, chemical, and socio-political efficacies in the fight against endemic disease; and to analyse contemporary public health communication in Dakar using photo elicitation methodologies.

If you have a query about Branwyn’s work, you can email her here. Questions about the Visual Plague project can be addressed to the administrator. You can find more information on the contact page