Call for Papers – Body Knowledge: Medicine and the Humanities in Conversation

Call for Papers: Body Knowledge: Medicine and the Humanities in Conversation
Deadline March 14 2013
Presented by: Medical Humanities Research Group at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Conference to be held on 2-4 September 2013


medical-humanistiesIn South Africa (and indeed on the African continent as a whole) there is not a single Centre for Medical Humanities. This conference aims to place Medical Humanities as a vibrant field of enquiry firmly onto the scholarly agenda in South Africa. To this end, we hope to draw local scholars and practitioners working in this area into conversation with one another and with international colleagues whose research is located within established medical humanities projects.

The Medical Humanities research group at WiSER invites abstracts of up to 500 words for papers that speak to our broad, inclusive theme of ‘Body Knowledge’. We welcome submissions from scholars and practitioners in a wide variety of disciplines, including the arts, literature, film, sociology, anthropology, history, medicine, philosophy, ethics, and psychology. In addition to panel sessions, we are planning a public event which will draw in a wider Johannesburg audience, as well as an art exhibition and film screening.

20-minute scholarly papers might address, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Themes of embodiment and the body as a site of knowledge
  • Body parts in culture, history, art and literature (including organs, skin, skulls, bones, tissues and blood)
  • Metaphors and representations of health and illness
  • Politics and power relations in medicine and health research
  • Medical plurality: the coexistence of indigenous pre-colonial systems of healing, their modern shifting forms, their conversations with biomedicine, and the links between these and religious practices of the body
  • Medicine as an art: as a fusion of practical scientific knowledge, tactics and performance Medical genres (case histories; medical memoir etc.)
  • Theoretical paradigms through which the humanities ‘reads’ biomedicine

Abstracts of up to 500 words, together with a brief biography of 250 words, should be submitted by 14 March 2013. Queries may be directed to either or

Please see the WiSER website for more information about our Institute at Wits:

Catherine Burns
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg South Africa
Visit the website at

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