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, in Linköping, Sweden. Due to the pandemic the conference has been postponed until June 15-17, 2022. For details about deadlines go to Information.

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.

Further, the Corona pandemic raises ethical, philosophical and sociocultural questions that must be addressed, and 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.

Call for Papers Show/Hide content

KeyNotes Show/Hide content

Professor Jane Macnaughton stands in front of a gray background
Professor Jane Macnaughton, one of the conference's keynote speakers Wellcome Images

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.

 Jonathan Metzel out in front of a lamp post
Professor Metzl, one of the conference's keynote speakers. John Russell

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.

Professor Kari Nyheim Solbrække with black background
Professor Kari Nyheim Solbrække, one of the conference's keynote speakers Lars Grønseth

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.

 Close up of Kristin Zeiler with sea and trees in the background
Professor Zeiler, one of the conference's keynote speakers. Johannes Zeiler

Professor Kristin Zeiler

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

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.

Information Show/Hide content


Please submit your abstract (maximum 500 words, Word format) to: futuresahead2021@lists.liu.se.
December 20, 2021.
Authors of abstracts will be notified of acceptance or rejection no later than January 31, 2022.

Date and location (registration has closed)

Dates of the Conference

  • Wednesday 15 June, 13.00 - Friday June 17, 15.00

Locations and maps


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

Program Show/Hide content

Preliminary Program

June 15

12.00 – 13.00 Registration (outside Berzeliussalen, entrance 65)

13.00 – 13.10 Introduction of Welcome Speakers. Professor Kristin Zeiler, Linköping University 

13.10 – 13.20 Welcome Speech by Lena Jonasson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Linköping University 

13.20 – 13.30 Welcome Speech by Ulf Melin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Linköping University 

13.30 – 14.40 First Keynote: Professor Jane MacNaughton, Durham University

14.40 – 14.55 Presentation of Exhibition: Norm Critical Design and Medical Humanities

14.55 – 15.20 ”Fika” (Coffee and cake)

15.20 – 16.50 Parallel Sessions

18.00 – 19.00 Reception at the Linköping Town Hall. Speakers: Deputy Vice Chancellor Karin Axelsson and Mayor Lars Vikinge. (City Hall, Storgatan 43)

16 June

9.00 – 9:10 Introduction (Berzeliussalen, entrance 65)

9.10 – 10.20 Second Keynote: Professor Kari Nyheim Solbraekke, Oslo University

10.20 – 10.50 ”Fika” (Coffee and sandwich)

10.50 –12.50 Parallel Sessions

12.50 – 14 Lunch (Please find suggestions for lunch restaurants on the map)

14.00 – 15.10 Third Keynote: Professor Jonathan Metzel, Vanderbilt University

15.10 – 15.40 ”Fika” (coffee and cake)

15.40 – 17.10 Parallel Sessions

19.00 Conference Dinner at Stångs Magasin, Södra Stånggatan 1.

17 June

9.00 – 10.30 Parallel Sessions

10.30 – 11 ”Fika” (Coffee and sandwich)

11.00 – 12.30 Parallel Sessions

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch (Please find suggestions for lunch restaurants on the map)

13.30 – 14.40 Keynote combined with Panel Session: Professor Kristin Zeiler; Professor Ericka Johnson, Professor Richard Levi, and Professor Harald Wiltsche, Linköping University

14.40 – 15.00 Concluding Discussion

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