Through the biomedical eye: making and circulating images of early human cytogenetics

Speaker: Maria Jesus Santesmases # Spanish National Research Council

27th Mar 2017

15:30 - 17:00

Staff room, 6th floor, Chrystal Macmillan Building


This talk presents the early days of human cytogenetics, from the late 1950s until the mid-1970s, as a historical series of images: I propose a chronology moving from bodies to chromosome sets, to be joined by ultrasound images that provided a return to bodies, by then focused on the unborn. Images carried ontological significance andare principal characters in the history of human cytogenetics. Inspired by the historiography of heredity and genetics, studies on visual cultures, the conceptualisation of circulation and the sociology of pregnancy, I suggest that of cytogenetics focused on pregnancy, pregnant women and their offspring, and found strategic living materials that stabilised human chromosome studies as a biomedical practice. The historicity of each path displays a wide circulation of objects, tools and methods that condensed on images that shared in the centuries-old visual expertise that medicine and botany had manufactured.