Global Medical Humanities
2013 Association for Medical Humanities Conference
Aberdeen, 8 – 10 July 2013
CfP submission deadline 1 February 2013
There has been continuous and vigorous debate about the theory and practice of medical humanities but only recently have questions been raised about the content and aims of the field in a global context. For example, in December 2011, Claire Hooker and Estelle Noonan published a paper entitled ‘Medical Humanities as Expressive of Western Culture’ in Medical Humanities. Based on their consultations with scholars in a range of Asian countries, they suggest that some curricula have been inappropriately influenced by Western medical history and the Western medical and artistic canon. This is not to deny that some Asian medical and non-medical faculties have long traditions of scholarship in social, cultural and historical dimensions of health and medicine. In view of the diverse ethnic origins of professional healthcare students in the West, Western medical humanities has sometimes been, in effect, parochial. But those of us who have engaged in practical medical humanities teaching know that the motivations of all students, and their reactions to medical humanities, are diverse.
The 2013 conference of the Association for Medical Humanities takes as its starting point the view that medical humanities must become a global endeavour in terms of research, teaching and application. Taking as our theme ‘Global Medical Humanities’, this conference aims to open up hitherto marginalised aspects of the field.
Themes and questions that the conference seeks to address:
- How does medical humanities vary in less developed, developing and developed countries?
- In what ways can the humanities help us better understand health inequalities in different cultural, social, political and economic settings?
- In what ways can the humanities help in increasing cross-cultural understanding and exchanges in relation to health?
- Are professional healthcare students, academics and practitioners in less developed countries more or less receptive to medical humanities than their counterparts in the West?
- Can medical humanities nurture an appreciation of the importance and nature of the global interconnectedness of public health issues?
- In what ways can we use the humanities to improve healthcare professionals’ understandings of other cultures?
- Can the idea of medical humanities as a useful medium for ‘inter-professional’ education be applied world-wide?
- Theatre, film and the other arts have been used to deepen professional healthcare students’ insights into the ethical issues that they will face in practice. These media have also been used to rally the support of and influence target populations. The conference would be interested in accounts of the use of such methods in various cultural settings.
- In what ways does film facilitate and / or hinder the agenda of global medical / health humanities?
- How do the challenges of using medical humanities to nurture an appreciation of spirituality and pluralism in medicine and health vary globally?
- Can medical humanities offer new and fruitful perspectives on traditional, indigenous, complementary and alternative medicine?
- Has medical humanities anything to offer the development of environmentally benign and sustainable public health and healthcare?
- To what extent can the theory and practice of medical humanities be independent of national cultures and traditions?
- Can medical humanities serve as a counter to the fragmentation of medical knowledge?
- There has been much debate about the naming of our field, e.g. health humanities versus medical humanities. How does this debate play out in the global medical humanities context? And how does ‘global medical humanities’ link with ‘global health ethics’?