Project Description

Lisa Stevenson

FSC-Harvard Fellow 2006-07

An anthropologist, Lisa Stevenson is currently a NIMH Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard. Her previous research concerned the question of life during a suicide epidemic among the Inuit of Canada. As part of that research she worked collaboratively to produce a video with Inuit youth as a response to the epidemic. At the Film Study Center she is embarking on a video project, To Make Them Well, that will explore the tuberculosis epidemic that ravaged Canadian Inuit communities in the 1940s and 50s. Focusing closely on those Inuit who were sent from Baffin Island to the “Mountain Sanatorium” in Hamilton Ontario, To Make Them Well will document the Inuit experience of being forced to leave their home communities and live for an unspecified period of time in a southern sanatorium. The transition from a hunting life to the cement, glass and medical machinery of a hospital was swift. One week Inuit were hunting whale and walrus, the next they were sipping apple juice from a straw in a hospital cot. Without minimizing the humanitarian crisis the TB epidemic posed for the Canadian State, this film will explore the experience of rupture and dislocation caused by its policies. Using archival footage and sound along with interviews with contemporary Inuit who survived the sanatoriums, To Make Them Well will pay attention to the communication and miscommunication between Inuit and medical personnel. The film will attempt to draw out the significance of that which could not be spoken both by doctors and Inuit.