Debates about a/the human body(s) are as central to medical and healthcare education and practices as they are to the humanities. “Body talk” is a means of creating identity through visual and verbal language, as much as a way of thinking about bodies. Different languages, perceptions or “body talk” offer ways of framing, creating and reviewing representations and dissonances in art and literature as a series of global, national and individual encounters. Different cultures and cultural modes of perceiving body in health and illness, present and represent different philosophies, histories and experiences. The politics of healthcare policy and theories themselves need to incorporate such encounters from a range of perspectives and positions.

The 2016 Association for Medical Humanities conference at the University of Greenwich, London, opens a creative critical space for communication between embodied and disembodied experiences and practices, raising questions about health and illness aimed at enhancing clinical practice and academic expertise. It brings together a wide range of individuals from different worlds, including Western medical and healthcare professionals, practitioners of other medicines, therapists, academics from education, health, humanities and social sciences, artists and technologists to consider the dynamics of inter-related differences in practices, cultures, theories, experiences, concepts, systems, policies and politics, social histories and ecologies.

Today, it is generally accepted that there is no such thing as ‘the’ body yet the evolution of the Western medical model is inherently based on and is arguably constantly in tension with this homogenizing concept. The wholeness of ableism, the heterogeneity of gendering, divisions between physical and mental care, this body is often itself divided separated into different parts or specialisms, yet the whole is that of the experience of the person within an individual ‘body’ whose identity is differently theorized in different parts of the world. And in the UK, patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare practitioners, part of a welfare system under threat, are all themselves patients and human beings, individuals with individual bodies and experiences.

Call for Papers

We welcome abstract submissions for paper presentations (around 200 words), workshops, performances, interactive sessions and posters on the topic “Body Talk: whose language?” While we especially encourage papers reporting research findings and innovative practice, we also welcome those exploring new theories and new and exciting ideas. Papers are invited on, but not necessarily limited to, the following broad themes:

Body Talk: My body/your body – who is in the room? Narrative medicine and therapeutic relationship: visual and verbal representations and languages, movement, roles and performance. (Re)presenting , listening and interpreting being human, human body, future bodies, metaphors and symbols, critical dialogues in images, reproductions and languages of anatomy, physiology biochemistry and psychology, clinical encounters and diagnosis, gaming and virtual clinics. Professional practice in medicine and healthcare.

Body Talk: My body/your body – whose rights, whose theory? Politics, theories, differences and diversity. Issues of equity, sexuality, disability and the law in global, national, institutional, individual and personal service provision, education and treatment, personalised medicine.  Social medicine in the past and present and specific groups of people: children’s healthcare and illness, women and health, mental health, sexual health, disabled health, ageing. Countercurrents in cultural and social representations, theories and histories of body.

Body Talk: My body/your body – whose language? Traditions, beliefs and world views.  Encounters with global systems and indigenous cultures. Translations across languages and cultures, internationally and nationally. Different environments in healthcare and development: complementary medicine and holistic practice. Research in other worlds, ethnography, anthropology, geography and ethical medicine. New thinking for new worlds: genetic science, biomedicine and economics, psychoneuroimmunology, body ecology, economics and complexity, systems thinking.

For additional details on submitting papers, please click here.


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