Body Knowledge: Medicine and the Humanities in Conversations
2-4 September 2013
Medical Humanities Research Group at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Conference Organizers: Dr Catherine Burns and Dr Ashlee Neser
In South Africa (and indeed on the African continent as a whole) there is not a single Centre for Medical Humanities. Although there are a number of scholars in South African universities whose research interests could be gathered under a Medical Humanities rubric, the absence of institutionalised interdisciplinary dialogue between the humanities and medicine here is perplexing, particularly given the enormously politicised and iniquitous history of South African health and medicine through the 20th century, the legacy of which continues in various forms into the present. This conference aims to place Medical Humanities as a vibrant field of enquiry firmly onto the scholarly agenda in South Africa. To this end, we hope to draw local scholars and practitioners working in this area into conversation with one another and with international colleagues whose research is located within established medical humanities projects.
The Medical Humanities research group at WiSER invites abstracts of up to 500 words for papers that speak to our broad, inclusive theme of ‘Body Knowledge’. We welcome submissions from scholars and practitioners in a wide variety of disciplines, including the arts, literature, film, sociology, anthropology, history, medicine, philosophy, ethics, and psychology. In addition to panel sessions, we are planning a public event which will draw in a wider Johannesburg audience, as well as an art exhibition and film screening.
20-minute scholarly papers might address, but are not limited to, the following:
- Themes of embodiment and the body as a site of knowledge
- Body parts in culture, history, art and literature (including organs, skin, skulls, bones, tissues and blood)
- Metaphors and representations of health and illness
- Politics and power relations in medicine and health research
- Medical plurality: the coexistence of indigenous pre-colonial systems of healing, their modern shifting forms, their conversations with biomedicine, and the links between these and religious practices of the body
- Medicine as an art: as a fusion of practical scientific knowledge, tactics and performance Medical genres (case histories; medical memoir etc.)
- Theoretical paradigms through which the humanities ‘reads’ biomedicine
Abstracts of up to 500 words, together with a brief biography of 250 words, should be submitted to Ashlee Neser by Friday 1 March 2013. Queries may be directed to either Ashlee Neser or Catherine Burns. Please see the WiSER website for more information about our Institute at Wits.