Call for papers for session(s) on GeoHumanities & Health, AAG, Los Angeles, April 2013

Organized by: Professor Sarah Atkinson and Dr Felicity Callard

This session calls for papers both conceptual and empirical that explore the interface between the GeoHumanities and Health – the interface between geographical interests in health, illness and medicine and the interests of the humanities.

The 21st Century has seen Geography increasingly revisiting its relationship with the arts and humanities. Although Geography has always positioned itself within all the three broad academic divisions of social science, science and the arts and humanities, Tuan, probably the most prominent early advocate of greater engagement with the humanities, stated that, ‘Our roots in the humanities are shallow’ (1978).  His own work exploring realism and fantasy (Tuan, 1990) was complemented by work on visual and literary interpretation of landscape (Porteous, 1985), and a critique of scientism through a humanistic geography (Bunkse, 1990). More recently, geography has enjoyed a flourishing of explorations informed by cultural theories, emphasising emotional and affective life (Anderson and Smith, 2000) or partnering the creative and performance arts (Hawkins, 2011). The growth of interest in our humanities facing work culminated at the 2012 AAG, New York, in a particular profile being given the field of ‘GeoHumanities’ (Dear et al., 2010).

Geographers working on health and medicine have, to-date, had relatively little direct engagement with this move towards the concerns of the humanities. Exceptions include the introduction of the concept of ‘therapeutic landscapes’ by Wil Gesler, associated with research on the meanings with which special sites of healing are imbued, building design and landscapes and healing in literature (e.g. Gesler 2003; Kearns and Barnett, 1999;  Tonnellier and Curtis, 2005). There has been some engagement with the creative arts and their relationship to health and wellbeing (e.g. Parr, 2006; Atkinson and Robson, 2012).

At the same time, the medical and health humanities are showing increasing interest in some of the theories and frameworks developed within geography. More broadly, we are in the midst of a recalibration of the disciplinary spaces of the humanities, social sciences, health sciences and sciences (Papoulias and Callard, 2010), which opens up new epistemological, methodological and ontological vistas for those of us working at the intersection of the GeoHumanities and Health.

But while pockets of research exist, there has been little systematic bringing together, interrogating and consolidating of our questions, methods or conceptual endeavours across the geographies of health and medicine.

This session aims to redress this gap and calls for papers both conceptual and empirical that explore the interface between the GeoHumanities and Health. We welcome papers that are conceptual and/or empirical; that address today’s world and/or particular historical moments; and that are authored by geographers and/or those from other disciplines. We of course invite collaborative submissions.

Interested contributors should send a short statement of interest to either organizer as soon as is practical and send a full abstract of no more than 250 words by Friday, October 12, 2012 to Sarah Atkinson and/or Felicity Callard.

N.B. All participants speaking at the AAG conference have to register. For all details, click here.


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