Africa at Noon on December 4, 2013

A Film Never Made: History, Science, and Memory in Liberia

Gregg Mitman
Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor, History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Time and Loca­tion

12:00pm, 206 Ingra­ham Hall, 1155 Obser­va­tory Drive, Madi­son, WI

Download Poster (pdf) 


In 1926, Richard Pearson Strong, head of Harvard’s Department of Tropical Medicine, led an eight-member scientific team to conduct a four-month long biological and medical survey of the interior region of Liberia. The expedition relied heavily on the economic, personnel and, physical infrastructures being erected by the Firestone Plantations Company to secure a viable rubber supply for the United States in Liberia. While Firestone’s continued presence in Liberia is one lasting legacy of the expedition, so too is the motion picture record the expedition left behind. This talk embarks on a cinematic journey that follows the extracts of an expedition and the lives of a film never made, as the expedition footage takes on a new life in post-civil war Liberia.


Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies. He is also Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History and Environment. His teaching and writing interests span the history of ecology, nature, and health in the U.S. and the world, and are informed by a commitment and hope to build a more equitable and just environment.