Karen Strassler

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Queens College, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10204

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Strassler, Karen (New York, Queens College, City U. of) "Image-Work and the Visual Politics of Breast Cancer "

Breast cancer is the most common and deadliest cancer for US women, kills Black women at a far higher rate than white women, and is linked to toxicity in our food, everyday products, air, earth, and water. Yet we have failed as a society to forge a viable collective politics around this disease. I posit that we might begin to understand why by examining the visual politics of breast cancer, and further that we might find alternative framings for the disease in the work of those who address the embodied experience of breast cancer in the images they make and circulate. Image-making practices have become integral to the ways people in the contemporary US confront their experiences of breast cancer, including “cancer journey” chronicles shared with family and friends, images posted to social media groups for cancer survivors, private documentation of treatment, posing for professional pre- and post-mastectomy photo shoots, as well as art and explicitly activist images. I ask: How do those undergoing and recovering from treatment make and share images to forge new self-envisionings? To what extent does this image-work reinforce dominant framings of the disease and what new ways of seeing cancer might they be generating?