Four New Critical Medical Humanities Networks awarded NNMHR Funding

NNMHR is excited to announce four new research networks awarded grants in our 2023 round of our New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities funding scheme.

The four successful networks will be launching their programmes and portfolios over the coming months. Each comprise compelling new programmes for research and activity in the critical medical humanities.

They represent a dynamic collective of researchers and practitioners based both in the regional north of the United Kingdom and from around the world.

The NNMHR, and our appointed New Networks deciding panel, would like to thank everyone who submitted their network proposals to this popular scheme. The standard of the many applications we received was exceptional. We will make further announcements about our expanding network and research opportunities soon.

These four research networks will join our existing network portfolio and expansive collective of affiliated network partners. Click here for details of them all.

We want to hear from you. It’s time to connect up with the critical medical humanities community. You can message NNMHR Networks Coordinator Dr James Rákóczi for further information or contact any of our network partners directly.

Pain and b/Black Identity: Race in Medicine

“This network will establish and maintain a space to think about ‘race’ as it is articulated in medical assessments of pain. It will be a ‘critical’ space in the sense that these medical assessments will be interrogated and contextualised as being part of a system that de-emphasises and sometimes erases b/Black people’s experiences of pain. By fostering connections in the broader conversations in the medical humanities around race, racism, medical science and clinical care practice, this network will focus and support work approaching race in medicine through the issue of pain and pain management.

To this end, we wish to explore the question of ‘physical’ pain as it is experienced by b/Black people in the Anglophone world and beyond. In the history of psychiatry, racial injustice has been predominantly approached through ideas of risk, violence and compulsion; much of the psychiatry-centred work in critical medical humanities has focussed on either (a) ideas of ‘intergenerational trauma’ (instead of the more quotidian ‘pain’) or (b) concepts of danger, violence and risk as opposed to subjective experiences of and structural responses to pain. As such, focussing on pain will not only explore and elucidate ‘metaphysical’ pain, but it will show how physical bodily pain is a phenomenon that represents very specific challenges for not only medicine and the medical humanities, but what we characterise as ‘iHPS’ (integrated history and philosophy of science and medicine).

We are interested in hearing from researchers and practitioners with a demonstrable interest in (a) pain in the context of medicine; (b) race in the context of medicine whose work would facilitate a specific focus on pain; (c) race and pain in medicine. Please contact the PI, Alexander Douglas, at .”

Stomach Ache: Curating with Guts in the Medical Humanities

“The brain-gut-microbiome axis is a pressing topic in emerging science and popular imaginaries. Major exhibitions at The Eden Project, UK (2015) Medical Museion, Copenhagen (2018) and Melbourne Museum, Australia (2019) have framed the microbiome and gut health as cutting-edge themes in curatorial practice. Yet epidemiological research suggests that complex, chronic and imprecisely diagnosed gut issues are rising exponentially around the globe, and that people’s experiences of seeking treatment are often unsupportive and ineffective. Acknowledging this failed connection between emerging science and people’s clinical experiences possesses a different kind of cultural urgency to the more traditional curatorial task of increasing people’s scientific understanding of the gut via artworks and cultural artefacts.  

From this point of complex entanglement, our network asks three questions:  

  • How do people living with complex gut issues think creatively and adaptively in response to their symptoms, when medicine is unable to offer a linear pathway toward treatment and cure?
  • What new definitions of medical and social equity arise in this disconnect between cutting-edge gut science and lived experience?
  • How might these formulations help us complicate representations of lived experience in curatorial and artistic practices, leading to new ways of curating with the medical humanities?   

A series of workshops will invite curators, artists and medical humanities researchers from across Australia, the Asia-Pacific, and Europe to consider digestive dysregulation as a provocation into new curatorial methods, with knowledge outcomes published in a summative working paper. Workshops will be bookended by two iterations of an exhibition at the Lethaby Gallery (Window Galleries), University of the Arts, London. Stomach Ache: Curating with Guts in the Medical Humanities consolidates an ongoing collaboration between network leads Dr Rachel Marsden at University of the Arts, London and Dr Vanessa Bartlett at University of Melbourne, and a wider network of artists, curators and medical humanities researchers. You can find the network leads on Twitter @rachmarsden and @vanessabartlett, and on IG @rachel_marsden and @vanessabartlett.”

UK Disability History and Heritage Hub

: Three multi-coloured speech/thought bubbles of varying shapes (from left to right: red rectangle, blue circle, and gold cloud) centred around a green oblong shape with the black text ‘UK Disability History and Heritage Hub’, in the centre. This is the logo of the UK Disability History and Heritage Hub. The colour scheme in the logo reflects the disability pride flag.

“The UK Disability History and Heritage Hub (UKDHHH) is a network focused on the histories of disabled, neurodivergent and Deaf people, spanning from the ancient world to the modern age. Created by a team of PhD students following a PGR-organised conference in March 2022, the network aims to widen the conversation about all types of disability history within and beyond the academy.

The current network is an international group of historians, early-career and professional researchers, heritage sector professionals, activists, and members of the public. The UKDHHH runs virtual monthly reading group sessions, and we have upcoming plans for many new types of events. We aim to use our platform and events to facilitate conversations about disability history, platform disabled, neurodivergent, and Deaf perspectives, and provide opportunities for individuals to connect. We are excited to receive funding from the NNMHR New Networks scheme to bridge these conversations into the wider field of medical humanities, to facilitate new intersections between these areas of study, and promote socially and politically conscious discussions about disability in the medical humanities. We look forward to continuing our work and expanding our group!  

To join our mailing list and reading group, you can sign up online at our website. We also are on Twitter at @UKDisHistHub.”

Warblers: Network of Reproductive Pain Studies from Southern India

“Warblers is an interdisciplinary research network of ECRs and academics working in the area of health humanities with a special focus on the issues of reproductive rights and birth trauma. The network – through critical academic discussions, collaborative and interdisciplinary research, and open forum discussion – will bring forth voices of the birthing person in order to understand the socio-cultural sentiments governing the notion of birth in the context of India. 

The network would like to delve deep into one of the key components of childbirth, i.e., the phenomenology of birth pain. Articulation of birth pain has always been considered taboo in the context of India. The imposed or learned silence has led to a series of mental health issues. Thus, the network through open forum discussion would like to revise the socio-cultural and gendered norms that shape the cultural memory of birth pain.  

In India, the failure to implement reproductive rights is rooted in the social structure in which we are embedded. India follows a collectivist and community-based social structure where we are cognitively tuned to be interdependent. The individual notion of autonomy and empowerment that shapes reproductive rights policy fails to make a significant change in the life of the birthing person. 

Hence, drawing on critical perspectives from social cognition, cultural memory, social neuroscience, gender studies, and law, the network aims to propose alternative ways to understand interdependent notions of autonomy and agency that will gear towards the emotional empowerment of the birthing person. 

Nursing home culture, although well embraced by Indian society, has also given birth to self-stigmatization for women who have experienced medical interventions such as c-sections, and assisted reproductive technologies. Many women conceive medical intervention during childbirth as a disabling component of their childbirth experience, resulting in a damaging impact on the mother-child relationship and holistic well-being. 

The Warblers network, through active engagement with academic and non-academic sectors, would like to reconsider birth as a fluid, complex, and diverse experience thereby aiming to break the myth of natural birth as idealized in Indian society.”

Posted on 14 Aug 2023, under News.

The 2023 round of the New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities Scheme is now open!


In 2022, The Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR) launched the first round of the New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities Funding Scheme. Four networks were awarded funds of up to £2500 each to support events, activities and the development of resources. 

The networks selected for funding in the 2022 round were:

The NNMHR has a strong national and international reputation as an interdisciplinary hub for researchers, practitioners and artists working in the critical medical humanities. Through a dynamic programme of events for early career researchers, and congresses held at Durham, Leeds, Sheffield and online in 2021, the NNMHR has been successful in engaging over two thousand researchers at all career stages and from all the disciplines contributing to the field. Collaboration and moving across disciplinary boundaries is increasingly important to generating new frameworks, scholarship and practices within critical medical humanities research. 

Shifting the focus from small research projects and individual fellowships, the New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities Funding Scheme enables the NNMHR to identify and support emerging networks of researchers committed to the innovative development, complication and expansion of the field. These networks will involve early career researchers in leading or coordinating roles, and will help catalyse new ideas, methodologies, collaborations and areas of further investigation within the critical medical humanities, nationally and internationally. We welcome proposals for new networks as well as applications from established networks seeking to support new activities or initiatives.

The New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities Funding Scheme is made possible by a Discretionary Award from Wellcome Trust [UNS128916].

Prospective applicants for the 2023 round may be interested in the online event “What Makes a Good Research Network?” on 26th April 2023, 14.00 to 15.30.

Details of the 2023 round

For the 2023 round, the NNMHR invites applications for grants of up to £2500 to support networking activities for up to two years (2023-2025). All awarded funds must be claimed and spent by the end of August 2025. 

Costed networking activity may include, but is not limited to:

  • collaboration events and activities of core network members (including travel)
  • collaboration and scoping events with relevant stakeholders 
  • scholarly outreach and public engagement initiatives 
  • core resources for collaborative research activity (including technological resources)
  • costs associated with plenary speakers or keynote events
  • costs associated with any publications emerging from the network in the duration of the award
  • Staffing costs in the form of stipends or hourly payments for unwaged or precarious workers including but not necessarily limited to artists, activists, representatives from charities or similar organisations. If the ECR network leader named on the grant is not currently in full-time paid employment, funds may be requested to support their salary costs (on an hourly paid or fractional basis) for time spent coordinating network activities. Hourly paid staffing costs must be administered by the host institution in line with their own policies around casual employment. If the ECR network leader named on the grant is not currently in full-time paid employment, funds may be requested to support their salary costs (on an hourly paid or fractional basis) for time spent coordinating network activities. Salary costs must be administered by the host institution in line with their own policies around casual employment.

Costs that are not eligible for funding include:

  • teaching buy-outs, fellowships, or personal payments for individual or group research time
  • technology and computing resources for individual use 

Prospective applicants will be able to attend an online workshop to explore what makes a successful research network, to reflect upon the benefits and limitations of online working, to address barriers to access, and to share best practice. 

The NNMHR will support successful applicants by offering them mentoring, helping them to establish the public profile of their network, and inviting them to showcase the activities of their network at the annual NNMHR congresses and through regular contributions to The Polyphony. The NNMHR will provide regular informal opportunities for the individuals running critical medical humanities networks to share their experiences and ideas, reflect on what is working and what is not, and identify areas of synergy and potential collaboration. 

The NNMHR will agree with successful applicants an approach to evaluation prior to the commencement of funded activity. As they will engage and develop different constituencies and intellectual agendas, networks require space to experiment, as well as flexibility in the definition of what counts as ‘success’.

Administration of the Award

At least one applicant within the proposed network must be affiliated to an institution willing to administer the grant. Contact details for this applicant (if someone other than the lead author) and their institution, as well as a brief letter of support from their institution confirming that they are willing to administer the award as detailed below, must be provided.

The administering institution must be able to bear the cost associated with the grant in the first instance; requests for reimbursement of costs will be made to Durham University (representing the NNMHR) on a quarterly basis, with evidence of spend in arrears. Any unspent funds will remain with the NNMHR. Please note that the NNMHR are not in a position to dispense this grant as a lump sum upfront. 


Applicants can come from any discipline or sector engaged in critical medical humanities research, working anywhere in the world. Applications will only be considered from groups of two or more individuals working collaboratively. In order to ensure that the network supports the career development of its coordinators, at least one applicant in this group must regard themselves as being early career (broadly defined as not having yet taken up a permanent post). 

While a focus on critical medical humanities research is essential, the scheme recognises that research takes place in spaces beyond the academy and can be carried out within a wide range of professional, artistic and community contexts. Applications from researchers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and from people who identify as disabled or who have lived experience of illness will be strongly encouraged. 

Assessment Criteria

Applicants will be free to determine the nature and scope of network activity within the Wellcome Trust’s overall guidelines, and can use funds to cover the costs of network coordination. It will not be a requirement that networks generate discrete research outputs or applications for further funding; however, applicants must be able to identify some broader goals for the network beyond simply exchanging ideas, and to show how participation will benefit those involved in the network’s coordination and activity. 

Applications will be assessed against the extent to which they:

  • further a critical medical humanities approach to health-related research
  • have the potential to impact positively on the people engaged, whatever their background, role, profession, status or career level
  • involve early career researchers in coordinating or leading roles
  • take intellectual risks or propose experimental ways of working
  • are committed to inclusivity and have identified strategies to achieve this
  • embrace interdisciplinarity as part of their approach to their chosen theme/s
  • address the sustainability of the proposed collaboration and/or the topic at hand beyond the life of the grant (this could take a number of forms including ECR career development, or how the network might exist or evolve in the future)

Applications will be assessed by a panel made up of members of the NNMHR Steering group.

Please note:

  • While we will take into account matters like representation and diversity among the people and topics involved, the actual size of your network is not included in the assessment criteria. This is intentional. We want to see the best and most innovative ideas that the critical medical humanities have to offer. These might involve any number of people from any location/s in the world. Key questions addressed by these networks can impact local through to global settings and contexts, the most important thing is bringing the right people together to do that. Interdisciplinarity matters, but how you achieve this is up to you.
  • Networks can work to broad or narrow themes: what matters is the furthering of knowledge and practice around approaches to thinking about health.
  • The aims of individual networks might include the production of scholarly outputs but this is not essential. We are interested in bringing together new communities of thought and practice and how you seek to address issues within the field of critical medical humanities is up to you. We are happy to consider all types of activity that might positively impact the field.

Application Process

Applicants should send their completed application form and institutional letter of support by 5pm (UK time) on Friday 12th May 2023 to Dr James Rákóczi at 

The institutional letter of support is to confirm that the institution is willing and able to bear the cost associated with the grant in the first instance; requests for reimbursement of costs will be made to Durham University (representing the NNMHR) on a quarterly basis, with evidence of spend in arrears.

The NNHMR Steering Group will review the applications and aim to notify all applicants of the outcome by the end of June 2023. 

As described in Wellcome Trust’s Grant Conditions it is important to note that:

  • NNMHR requires that all funded networks comply with the legal, ethical and risk-based processes of the institution administrating the grant. NNMHR also reserves the right to refuse any expenditure or event that does not meet adequate health and safety or ethical compliance standards
  • Grant holders must inform NNMHR if planned activities and/or expenditure needs to change significantly within the duration of the award
  • Any unspent funding will remain with the NNMHR at the end of the grant period.


Frequently asked questions:

How much are the awards?

Each award is for up to £2500.

How many awards will be made? 

We are likely to make four or five awards in this round. 

Our network was awarded funding in the 2022 round. Can we apply again for more funding to develop our network further? 

No, we have decided to prioritise funding a wider selection of networks rather than give additional funds to networks that have already received support from the NNMHR.

We applied for an award in the last round, but were unsuccessful. Can we apply again? 


How will the award be made? 

At least one applicant within the proposed network must be affiliated to an institution willing to administer the grant. Contact details for this applicant (if someone other than the lead author) and their institution, as well as a brief letter of support from their institution confirming that they are willing to administer the award as detailed below, must be provided.

The administering institution must be able to bear the cost associated with the grant in the first instance; requests for reimbursement of costs will be made to Durham University (representing the NNMHR) on a quarterly basis, with evidence of spend in arrears. Any unspent funds will remain with the NNMHR. Please note that the NNMHR are not in a position to dispense this grant as a lump sum upfront. 

I’m not quite ready to apply for this funding yet. Will there be another opportunity to apply for new network funding in the future?

We are unlikely to be able to offer further rounds of funding after 2023. 

Further Information: For informal enquiries or advice about your eligibility for the scheme, please contact Dr James Rákóczi at .

Posted on 03 Mar 2023, under News.

What Makes a Good Research Network? NNMHR New Networks Grant, 26th April

Online Event hosted by the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR)

Weds 26 April, 14:00pm (GMT)

Register here.

To coincide with the 2023/24 round of our NNMHR New Networks scheme, we invite you to this online discussion and advice event about the ins and outs of running a medical humanities research network. The event will offer advice on the application process and reflections for those applying for this grant, and will also be of general interest to all scholars and practitioners engaged in critical medical humanities research anywhere in the world.

We will be joined by three sets of speakers:

Camille Bellet (Manchester University)

Camille will discuss the recent launch of the Nonhuman Animals in the Medical Humanities Network ( Based at University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine and funded by NNMHR, the NAMHN brings together scholars from diverse disciplines, artists, writers, practitioners, and activists to rethink and revive the role of non-human animals within the medical humanities. She will outline the network’s planned use of an ‘exchange platform’ to support dialogue between scholars, artists, writers, practitioners and activists interested in post-humanist and multispecies approaches as well as how the project’s partners are coordinating their network’s objectives and rationales with its day-to-day practices.

Arya Thampuran (Durham University)

Arya will discuss her roles across a set of research network activities in the medical humanities: her leadership of the Black Health and Humanities network ( as it moves from one institution to another, the imminent launch of the Neurodivergent Humanities network, and the research seminars conducted through the Cultures of Madness project. She will focus particularly on how to build a sense of community beyond old models of ‘academic networking’, thinking through how networks can reframe the “research output” in ways that speak instead to collective interests, values, and learning needs from researchers who sit at the intersection of arts, academia, and activism/across different disciplines and fields. She will connect these discussions to the practicalities of care: how to maintain connections across hybrid work-spaces, how to develop non-extractive and collaborative methodologies in the medical humanities, how to engage with material that intersects with researchers’ lived experiences, and how to develop mentorship models for researchers.

Jemma Walton and Kate Errington (Birkbeck)

Jemma and Kate will discuss their ongoing project Broadly Conceived (, a growing research network project that began life as a reading group and continues to expand in exciting new directions and opportunities. They will outline how they set out to create a supportive, interdisciplinary space for postgraduate and early career researchers interested in reproductive health knowledge and activism. Their discussion will focus on the importance of social media and creating online presence, as well as how the Broadly Conceived project focuses on collaboration and networking to build insight and connections with academics, as well as activists and other kinds of practitioners.

The event will be chaired by James Rákóczi (Durham/Northumbria), project lead of the Ends of Knowledge network (, on behalf of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research.

The deadline for the second round of the NNMHR New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities Funding Scheme is Friday 12th May, by 17:00 (GMT). Apply now!

Posted on 02 Mar 2023, under News.

NNMHR Congress 2023: Call for Submissions


what matters for critical medical humanities now & how does critical medical humanities matter?

NNMHR Congress, online, 19-21 April 2023

  • What does the ‘critical’ in critical medical humanities mean to you?
  • What has critical medical humanities accomplished in the past ten years, and to what extent has it delivered on its early claims and promises?
  • What is happening in the field today (and conversely, what is not happening enough)? Where is this happening, who is involved, and who and what has been left out or marginalised in this turn?
  • What should be the aims and ambitions of critical medical humanities for the next ten years? What forms of material change should the field seeks to bring about, in what sites and settings, how, and for whom?

‘Critical’ is a mobile and multifaceted term that signifies differently according to context. It can imply urgency and importance, perhaps even danger or crisis; it might suggest productive analysis and evaluation on one hand, or scepticism, negativity and fault-finding on the other; for many scholars it brings to mind the literary, philosophical and political traditions of critique.

This congress marks a decade since the ‘critical’ turn in medical humanities. It takes as its starting point an experimental symposium hosted by Durham University in late 2013, which sparked a series of conversations around the ‘critical’ that fundamentally reshaped the field. Reframing the critical as collaborative and ‘entangled’ rather than necessarily oppositional, and emphasising the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration, methodological experimentation, creative risk taking and reflective practice, ‘critical’ medical humanities was proposed as a way of moving beyond a servile or antagonistic relation to medicine and practices of healthcare (Viney et al 2015). Ten years later, this congress invites a consideration of the extent to which the early promises of critical medical humanities have or have not been fulfilled.

Asking ‘what matters for critical medical humanities now?’, this call for papers encourages delegates to identify and address the most significant issues – thematic, methodological, structural – facing the field today. For example, how is critical medical humanities responding to the long-overdue call to decolonise global health, or to the challenges of climate change? We also invite delegates to consider the ways in which critique intersects with material practice and embodied experience – how critical medical humanities ‘matters’ – and to reflect upon how the field might actively produce transformative material change.

Practical details

CRITICAL will be the fifth annual congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR), jointly hosted by the NNMHR and Durham University’s Institute for Medical Humanities. The previous congress, held online in 2021, was attended by over 1,300 delegates from across the globe, including Europe, USA, South Africa, the Middle East, and Australasia.

The 2023 congress will similarly take place entirely online, with the explicit aim of encouraging international participation and remaining accessible and inclusive of those who might find attending in person difficult for health, financial, caring or geographical reasons.

We particularly welcome proposals from those who do not necessarily identify themselves as medical humanities researchers, as well as from those working outside the formal structures of the university.

We invite abstract proposals for the following types of contribution:

  • Ready-formed panels. As well as the tried-and-tested ‘three papers and a Q&A’ format, we encourage experimentation with alternative presentational formats (performance, dialogue, ‘in conversation with’, etc.). Panels should be for sessions of 90 minutes in duration. (750-word (max) abstract including panel title, plus short (50-word max) bio for each contributor.
  • Individual 20-minute papers (which will be grouped into thematic 90-minute panels by the conference convenors). 250-word (max) abstract including title, plus short (50-word max) bio.
  • Lightning talks (using Ignite [20 slides, 15 seconds each) or Pecha Kucha [20 slides in six minutes] formats). 250-word (max) abstract including title, plus short (50-word max) bio.
  • Video poster presentations. 250-word (max) abstract including title, plus short (50-word max) bio.

Proposals should address one of the following thematic strands:

Critical (what?)

  • What has critical medical humanities accomplished in the past ten years, and to what extent has it delivered on its early claims and promises?
  • What are the most pressing issues and challenges for critical medical humanities today? What should it focus its attentions on? What should be the aims and ambitions of critical medical humanities for the next ten years?
  • Who and what has been left out or marginalised by the critical turn? How does critical resonate in different ways across different fields, and what affordances does ‘critical’ have beyond the academy? Are there limitations to the critical that need to be acknowledged and worked around?

Collaboration (with whom?)

  • If the critical was a call to collaboration, how has this worked in practice? Has the critical turn helped or hindered wider engagement with activists, professionals and stakeholders in other arenas? How critical medical humanities can work more effectively with third sector partners?
  • How has critical medical humanities’ relationship with aligned and emergent fields including (but not limited to) critical disability studies, neurodiversity studies, trans studies, mad studies, climate change and extinction studies, and critical university studies evolved in the past decade, and to what effect?
  • To what extent has an emphasis on collaboration and entanglement helped generate methodological innovation across different disciplines and sectors, and does the current emphasis on collaboration risk privileging some kinds of collaborators over others?

Contexts (where?)

  • Where does critical medical humanities happen? What are its normative sites of practice? How and where does it operate beyond the university?
  • How has the critical turn in medical humanities manifested differently across different national contexts and different disciplines?
  • How has the critical medical humanities responded to recent calls for decolonisation of the field? How can critical medical humanities better foreground and support non-western perspectives whilst avoiding an extractive logic?

Methods (how?)

  • How do questions of ethics, care and epistemic injustice shape the methods of critical medical humanities?
  • To what extent can pedagogy in critical medical humanities be considered an area of active methodological experimentation?

Materialities (to what effects?)

  • How are different minds, bodies and subjects (both human, non-human, more-than human and post-human) made to matter through different methodological and disciplinary approaches?
  • Are there specific local and global health challenges that critical medical humanities particularly well-equipped to address?
  • What transformative material effects has the field had on human health (broadly understood) in the past decade, and where and what might it aim to ‘matter’ in the future?

How to submit proposals for NNMHR Congress 2023:

Please submit your proposal for the Congress using this form by Friday 13 January 2023. 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 mid-February. If you have any questions, please contact the conference organisers at .

The NNMHR Congress is free to attend.

Our hashtag is #nnmhr2023.

Posted on 14 Nov 2022, under News.