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.

The conference invites researchers within the fields of the humanities, the social sciences, and medicine that seek to further discuss the potential of collaboration, common goals and possible challenges in medical humanities and the social sciences. We also welcome other stakeholders such as patients, health practitioners, and policy makers.

Why this Conference? Health Challenges and Collaborations

Facing the rapid speed of new innovations and biotechnologies, medicine and health care are currently being transformed in numerous ways. The goal of personalized medicine, tailored to fit the individual patient’s need, and the strive towards equality in health meet restructuring welfare states, health consumerism, patients’ suffering from complex diseases. Medicine and health care also face increasing possibilities to screen and identify unrecognized disease in healthy, asymptomatic populations.

Globally, the World Health Organization has identified multiple health challenges including outbreaks of communicable diseases as well as humanitarian crises caused by environmental pollution and climate change. The call for collaborations between medicine, social science and the humanities has perhaps never been stronger.

Topics of the Conference

The research field of medical humanities, understood broadly, encompasses the humanities and the interpretative social science in and of medicine, as well as inquiries at the very intersection of medicine, the humanities, and the social sciences. It sets out from the presumptions that sociocultural, ethical, and political aspects play into the development and use of specific medical technologies and medical knowledge production, and that such technologies and knowledge production also evoke sociocultural, ethical and political questions. These are also central themes at the conference.

Further, the conference welcomes presentations on experiences of illness, suffering, and bodily and functional variations, and acknowledges that these experiences can evoke existential questions, and that the medical humanities aptly offer tools to engage with questions of meanings, subjectivity, agency, ethics, and power.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Subjectivity, intersubjectivity and 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 health care
  • Structural discrimination within health care 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
  • Translations between medical research and clinical practice
  • Challenges and potentials in collaborations across research disciplines and professions

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

Show/Hide content

Show/Hide content


Professor Jane Macnaughton

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

Dr. Macnaughton is Director of Durham University’s institute for Medical Humanities and has been centrally involved in the development of Medical Humanities in the UK and internationally since 2000. She continues to practice clinically in women’s health. Professor Jane Macnaughton stands in front of a gray backgroundPhoto 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.

Dr. 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 hot-button 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, Oslo University. 
Professor and Head of Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences; University of Oslo.

Dr. Nyheim Solbrække has worked extensively on crossings of the body in (bio)medicine and lay understandings of illness, health and embodiment such, currently in areas such as extensive treatment of gynecological cancer, IVF as well evidently rape.


Professor Kari Nyheim Solbrække with black background

Photo credit Lars Grønseth

Professor Kristin Zeiler

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

Dr. Zeiler is Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Linköping University. Her research examines subjectivity, embodiment, agency, and philosophical and socio-cultural aspects of medical technologies and practices.

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

Photo credit Johannes Zeiler

Show/Hide content


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

Registration, date and location

Registration opens February 1, closes April 1.
Dates of the Conference: June 16-18, 2021.
Location: Linköping University, Sweden.


The LiU Medical Humanities and Social Sciences network, which is part of the National Network for Medical Humanities and Social Sciences.

Contact us
Show/Hide content