Visual Literacy in Uganga: “Reading” Imagery of Health and Illness in Northeastern Tanzania

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Lecture by Dr. Barbara Thompson, independent art historian, curator and consultant

Practitioners of the indigenous arts of healing, or uganga, in northeastern Tanzania use a visual language that combines the use of objects, imagery, and symbolism to prevent, diagnose, and treat affliction; to educate newcomers into the arts of healing; and to convey culturally specific concepts of health and illness. This presentation provides an introduction to the basic “alphabet” of visual literacy in uganga throughout northeastern Tanzania, while also revealing how healers use complex interpretations of physical, social, spiritual, and cultural histories to directly effect change in a person's state of being.

This lecture is presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Art from Tanzania,” on view at the JSMA through August 6, 2017, and is sponsored by a JSMA Academic Support Grant.