Rise and Shine: Sunlight, Technology and Health

By Simon Carter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Sunlight in Perspective: Pleasure, Sunlight and the
Socio-sensual Environment

Looking back on the historical assemblage of the body in sunlight it is possible to draw certain conclusions, as much with an eye on current and contemporary developments as to the past. In previous chapters we have examined the role that sunlight and the sun's rays have played in various sociotechnical figurations. One significant motif has been the various assemblages that have coalesced around the nexus made up of sunlight, bodies and health. Thus the outdoors movements, such as the Scouts or campers, the treatment of tuberculosis and rickets, the campaigning of the Sunlight League, and even sunlight architecture are drawn together in a common aim: the production of'healthy bodies'. Indeed the 'healthy body'was a crucial element in the attempts to establish the durability of these projects.

Yet ultimately many of these sociotechnical projects unravelled and their network building reversed. For example, the advocates of both heliotherapy and actinotherapy failed in their attempts to constitute these therapies as mainstream medical practices - today even the names of these treatments appear archaic.1 Resistance to these attempted enrolments came from a variety of sources, for example: as Mellanby observed, it proved far simpler to ensure children had an adequate dietary intake of vitamin D than to establish a complex system of sunlamp provision in schools; tuberculosis microbes proved resistant to the sun's rays with heliotherapy only being effective against certain forms of the disease; patients were often less than patient about the time and expense needed for sunlight treatment; and the medical profession were successfully enrolled by the competing collective of allopathic pharmacological medicine as found in the new antibiotics sponsored by the UK's Medical Research Council.


SUNLIGHT AND TOURISM

Yet these different assemblages did succeed in establishing an association between health and sunlight. For example, in the context of possible 'cures' for a widely feared illness, such as rickets or tuberculosis, many experts also sought

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