Call for Papers: NNMHR 4th Annual Congress, 21st-23rd April 2021, online

Medical Humanities: (In)Visibility

Call for Papers: 4th Congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research, Institute for Medical Humanities (IMH), Durham University, 21–23 April 2021.

Keynote speakers:

Bettina Bildhauer (School of Modern Languages, University of St Andrews) – ‘Invisible Blood: Hiding Menstruation from the Middle Ages to Today’

Felicity Callard (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow) – ‘Epidemic Time: Thinking from the Sick Bed

Jules Netherland (Drugs Policy Alliance, New York) – ‘White Opioids: The Racialization of the Opioid Epidemic’

Jaipreet Virdi (Department of History, University of Delaware) – ‘“Invisible yet potent helps”: Technologies Between Deafness and Hearing’

The fourth Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR) Congress will be held online on 21–23 April 2021, in collaboration with the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham. The aim of the Congress is simple: it is an opportunity for people who are passionate or even simply curious about medical humanities research to present their work, share ideas, and meet potential future colleagues and collaborators. The Congress is not limited to members of the network.

The global and local health inequalities revealed and perpetuated by the Covid-19 pandemic require us to reflect upon how we do medical humanities research. We ask participants to consider the ways in which our work renders some aspects of health and illness visible, while leaving others out of sight. We hope to think more carefully about what sort of experiences the medical humanities has become adept at bringing to light, whilst reflecting on the ways in which theoretical methodologies, research priorities and funding structures have left other voices unheard. Contributors may also wish to consider how the medical humanities can become more visible in wider health funding structures and in relation to strategic health priorities. Presentations focused on health, illness and experience from any disciplinary perspective might address topics including:

  • Scale – health and illness from the microscopic and genetic to the global and systemic. 
  • Affect and expression – silences, shame, and embarrassment.
  • Symptoms and diagnosis – the medically unexplained; evidence and validity; latency, and interiority.
  • Invisible forms of labour in healthcare.
  • Hidden or unacknowledged biases in medical research and funding structures.
  • The influence of clinical measurement or evaluation instruments and structures on what is seen and not seen.
  • Senses, interfaces and technologies in healthcare – beyond the visual.
  • Overlooked spaces of care (e.g. the home, religious institutions, homeless shelters).
  • Archives, narratives, histories of health and illness – how are these histories recorded? What is left out?
  • The quotidian, unremarkable and dull in healthcare; illness and boredom. 
  • Invisible subjects / subjectivities – class, gender, sexuality, race, age, geography.
  • Visibility, activism, and advocacy in healthcare
  • Visual culture and its others in health and wellbeing – sound-worlds, tactile environments, the intersensory.  

In addition to presentations of ongoing research, we welcome papers on research methods, impact, and engagement. Proposals from postgraduate and early career researchers are also very welcome, as are those from professionals and practitioners who are actively involved in research but not based in the academy. We encourage contributions from individuals working in any discipline and at any institution, within the UK or internationally. We are keen to include work that addresses the challenges of our current moment, as well as that which reveals the value of alternative historical perspectives.

Running the NNMHR Congress online for the first time opens up many exciting possibilities for a truly global and a more inclusive event which makes innovative use of a range of digital formats. Including synchronous and asynchronous elements, the Congress will be programmed to engage audiences in a range of time-zones, mitigate zoom fatigue, and provide as many opportunities as possible for informal networking.

We invite proposals of 200 words on the topic of ‘Medical Humanities: Invisibility’ in one of three formats: 

  • 20-minute papers, which will be organised into themed panels;
  • 90-minute sessions involving multiple participants (these could be themed panels, roundtables, interviews, performances with Q&As, or any other format organised by participants); or
  • 3-minute pre-recorded videos, animations or presentations to be made accessible online in a virtual poster session.

Please submit your proposal for the Congress using this form by Friday 12 February 2021. All proposals will be reviewed by staff at the Institute for Medical Humanities, Durham University in consultation with the NNMHR Congress Steering Group, and presenters will be notified by Friday 5 March 2021, when registration will open. If you have any questions please contact the conference organizers:

The NNMHR Congress is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is free to attend.

Our hashtag is #NNMHR2021.

Posted on 26 Nov 2020, under News.