The visual diplomacy of cancer treatments: the mediatic legacy of the Curies in the early transnational fight against cancer

British Journal for the History of Science 56 (2):167-183 (2023)
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This paper analyses the role played by members of the Curie family in the visual diplomacy of cancer treatments. This relationship started in 1921, when Marie Curie travelled to the US, accompanied by her two daughters, Ève and Irène, to receive a gram of radium at the White House from President Warren Harding. In the years that followed, Ève Curie, as the biographer and natural heir of radium discoverers Marie and Pierre Curie, continued to contribute to the visual diplomacy of cancer campaigning. Two events will be analysed through an interdisciplinary lens, merging history of science and visual-diplomacy studies, to show how the legacy of the Curies played out in the international consolidation of pre-war transnational alliances in the fight against cancer. One involves the picture of the chargé d'affaires of the France Republic, Jules Henry, receiving the biography authored by Ève,Madame Curie, at the French embassy in Washington. The other concerns the photograph of Ève visiting the Portuguese Oncology Institute (IPO) in 1940, which was immediately reproduced in the Institute's bulletin in order to raise awareness of cancer prevention strategies, and also captured in film as a propaganda tool for the Estado Novo regime (1933–74).



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