Futures ahead - Translations and collaborations between medicine, social science and the humanities

Welcome to the conference Future Ahead - Translations and collaborations between medicine, social science and the humanities June 16-18, 2021 in Linköping, Sweden.

We invite researchers within the fields of the humanities, the social sciences, and medicine who are seeking to discuss the potential of collaboration, common goals and possible challenges in the field of medical humanities, broadly understood. We also welcome other stakeholders such as patients, health practitioners, and policy makers. The conference is organized by the Centre for Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Linköping University.

Why this conference? Health challenges and collaboration

Facing the rapid introduction of innovations and new techniques in biotechnology, the medical and healthcare systems are being transformed in numerous ways. The goal of personalised medicine, tailored to fit the needs of the individual patient, and a striving towards equality in health are faced by such trends as a restructuring of welfare states, the rise of health consumerism, and an increase in the number of patients suffering from complex diseases. It is also becoming increasingly possible to screen for and identify risk groups and previously unrecognised symptoms in healthy, asymptomatic populations. And the Corona pandemic raises ethical, philosophical and socio-cultural questions in need of being addressed.

Further, the World Health Organization has identified multiple global health challenges including outbreaks of communicable diseases and humanitarian crises caused by environmental pollution and climate change. The call for collaboration between medicine, the social sciences and the humanities has never been stronger.

Conference topics

The research field of the medical humanities, understood broadly, encompasses the humanities and the interpretative social sciences in and of medicine. The field undertakes inquiries at the intersection of medicine, the humanities, and the social sciences. It sets out from the premises that sociocultural, ethical, and political aspects influence the development and use of medical technologies and the production of medical knowledge, and that such technologies and knowledge production also raise sociocultural, ethical and political questions. The field also examines experiences of illness, suffering, and bodily and functional variations, and acknowledges that such experiences can raise existential questions. It offers suitable tools to engage with questions of meaning, subjectivity, agency, ethics, and power.

Topics at the conference will include, but not be limited to:

  • Subjectivity, intersubjectivity and the lived experiences of embodiment, illness, pain, pregnancy, birth, and dying
  • Affectivity and agency
  • Norms, values and sociocultural assumptions about bodies, body parts, sex, race/ethnicity, gender, and specific diseases
  • Ethical analysis of/within medicine
  • Equality in healthcare
  • Structural discrimination within the healthcare services
  • The co-production of society, medicine, science, and policy making
  • Cultural diversity and concepts of health, disease, and illness
  • Knowledge production in medicine and the medical humanities
  • Local and global health challenges
  • Translation between medical research and clinical practice
  • Challenges and potentials in collaboration across research disciplines and professions

We invite papers that seek to contribute to the conversation on critical intersections of the humanities, the social sciences, and medicine.

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Professor Jane Macnaughton

Professor of Medical Humanities and Director of the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University, UK.

Professor Macnaughton is Director of Durham University’s Institute for Medical Humanities and has been centrally involved in the development of the medical humanities in the UK and internationally since 2000. She continues to practise clinically in women’s health.

Professor Jane Macnaughton stands in front of a gray background Photo credit Wellcome Images

Professor Jonathan Metzl

Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University. 
Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health, and Society Professor of Psychiatry.

Professor Metzl is Director of the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He has written extensively for medical, psychiatric, and popular publications about some of the most urgent issues facing America and the world.

 Jonathan Metzel out in front of a lamp post Photo credit John Russell 

Professor Kari Nyheim Solbrække

Institute of Health and Society,University of Oslo.
Professor and Head of Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences; University of Oslo.

Professor Nyheim Solbrække has worked extensively on crossings of the body in (bio)medicine and the lay understanding of illness, health and embodiment. She is currently working in the extensive treatment of gynecological cancer, the provision of IVF, and victim experiences of rape.

Professor Kari Nyheim Solbr√¶kke with black background Photo credit Lars Grønseth

Professor Kristin Zeiler

Department of Thematic Studies - Technology and Social Change, Linköping University.

 Close up of Kristin Zeiler with sea and trees in the background Photo credit Johannes Zeiler

Professor Zeiler is Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Linköping University. Her research examines subjectivity, embodiment, agency, often from hermeneutical, phenomeneological and empirically philosophical perspectives, and the philosophical, ethical, and sociocultural aspects of medical technologies and practices.

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Please submit your abstract (maximum 500 words, Microsoft Word format) to: futuresahead2021@lists.liu.se.
Deadline: 21 December 2020.
Authors of abstracts will be notified of acceptance or rejection no later than 29 January 2021.

Registration, date and location

Registration will open on 1 February, and close on 1 April.
Dates of the conference: 16-18 June 2021.
Location: Linköping University, Sweden..


Centre for Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Linköping University, Sweden.

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