The Effaced project is being represented at the meeting of the Australian Historical Association this week in Ballarat, Victoria. AHA 2016: From Boom to Bust is convened by the Collaborative Research Centre in Australian History (CRCAH) at Federation University Australia.
Emily’s paper is called ‘”The World may see your Trade in your Faces”: Labour and the Face in Early Modern Medicine’, and will focus on workplace health involving the face in early modern Europe, including Bernardo Ramazzini’s (1633–1714) De morbis artificum diatriba (On the Diseases of Workers). Ballarat was a town of the Australian gold rush, and mining will no doubt feature in several talks this week. Ramazzini discusses the dangers of facial injuries for miners (as does Effaced’s own David Turner), and they are a group he expresses great sympathy for in general for their dark, damp conditions, risk of explosions or rock falls, and the “Pestilential Steams” of foetid water and “Mineral Matter” (sig. B3r). But he holds mercury the most “absolutely pernicious” substance (sig. B3r), with miners unable to bear more than six-hour shifts, or rarely more than two years’ service before they are affected by palsies, vertigo, weakness, and tooth loss (sig. B3v). Gilders who also work with mercury are similarly affected, “and their Complexion [as]sumes a dangerous Ghostly Aspect” (sig. B8r). We look forward to seeing where faces pop up over the week!
Gold mining scene – miners and families, c.1861. Richard Daintree 1832-1878, photographer. Collection of the State Library of Victoria.