CFP: Theorizing the Body in Health and Medicine

Theorizing the Body in Health and Medicine (Maastricht University, November 26-27, 2015)

For most health and medical professionals “the body” functions as a taken for granted entry point for analyzing, imaging, screening, diagnosing, curing, caring, nursing, training, and feeding people. It is also often considered as different from, and even opposed to, “the psyche” which results in sharp distinctions between somatic and mental illnesses. This biomedical idea of the body and its alleged mental counterpart has been put into question by both social constructivist oriented theories and phenomenological oriented theories. Where the first underline that the meaning of the body is intrinsically related to cultural, social and economic context, and to power relations within the health care system, the latter explain in what sense people’s lived body experiences diverge from medical conceptions of soma and psyche. While these two theoretical approaches are both crucial for reflecting on the meaning of the body in health and medicine, they are often seen as opposing and even mutually exclusive. The aim of this workshop is to explore the meaning of the body at the intersection of these two approaches. To this purpose we will discuss topical issues in contemporary health and medicine and examine how social and cultural contexts are decisive for the labeling of bodies in terms of being healthy, sick, disabled or enhanced, while simultaneously taking seriously the individual, material, and experienced body of patients and health seekers.

There are approximately 5-7 open slots for presentations by researchers in the fields of philosophy, medical anthropology, medical sociology, gender studies or disability studies. We welcome proposals for 30 minutes presentations. We especially encourage the submission of theoretical analyses of topical issues pertaining to the body and embodiment in contemporary health and medicine that address the above sketched tension between the social and the individual.

Suitable topics include (but are not limited to) theoretically reflections on:

  • disability and disfigurement
  • prosthetics, assistive devices, implants
  • somatization, psychosomatics, functional disorders
  • the body in mental health and psychiatry
  • donation and transplantation of organs and body parts
  • regenerative medicine
  • cosmetic surgery, beauty industry
  • aging bodies
  • the pregnant body in a technological age
  • sex reassignment surgery
  • bodies “at risk”: the body in public health
  • exercising, dieting, self-monitoring
  • traveling and translating practices: the body in global health

A 250 word abstract, together with a short biography of the presenter, should be sent to Jenny Slatman no later than July 15, 2015.

This workshop is part of the VIDI-project “Bodily Integrity in Blemished Bodies”, which is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).