Framing women’s scientific labour at the Burden Neurological Institute through archival photography


‘Triple exposure shows Lady Janet Shipton flinching from light’, Life, ‘Electronic Patterns of the Brain’ / ‘The Love Machine Tests Compatibility’, 9 April 1956. BURD/A/06/113, BNI

Over on the Science Museum Group Journal site, David Saunders (a PhD student at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London), has written a good read entitled Wired-up in white organdie: framing women’s scientific labour at the Burden Neurological Institute

Using untapped photographic collections in the Burden Neurological Institute’s (BNI) papers, Saunders work addresses a lacuna in the historiography of science that has overlooked the prominent roles women have played in the history of the BNI. 

The work does not, however, treat the photos as “providing an unproblematic ‘window’ onto the experiences of these scientific workers, this article contends that the photographs in question ‘frame’ women’s labour in particular ways so as to devalue, obscure and erase their contributions to the BNI’s much-lauded achievements.” 

Rather, the article “considers three such frames: the objectification of women as the subjects, rather than the practitioners, of neuroscientific research; the elision of women’s scientific, domestic, and familial roles; and the visual equation of women’s labour with that of the machine.”

Read the entirety here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.