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
“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!
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.”