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.

What can wellbeing and health research look like in the arts, humanities and social sciences?

The NNMHR are delighted to share the programme for partner institution Lancaster University’s upcoming online symposium “What can wellbeing and health research look like in the arts, humanities and social sciences?”, due to take place on 22 and 23 May 2023. The symposium is organised by Lancaster’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Health Hub.

Keynote speakers will be Professor Angela Woods (Durham University) and Dr Alex Wragge-Morley (History Department, Lancaster). The full programme can be viewed below, and registration is via Eventbrite.

Posted on 09 May 2023, under News.

NNMHR Congress 2023: Keynote Speakers


Chisomo Kalinga

On citizenship, boundaries and belonging: Designing Inclusive Medical and Health Humanities Spaces

April 19, 12-1:30PM BST

As the medical humanities field continues to expand and flourish within innovative spaces of health research, critical questions emerge about who belongs in that space, who gets to build and sustain it, and who gets to be a citizen. 

This keynote argues that the medical and health humanities as a field and discipline are at key crossroads necessitating a reflection on citizenship and belonging, particularly amongst those on the margins, and advocates a self-reflection on the realities of inclusion, exclusion, power and resistance within the field. This talk puts into perspective how method, praxis, analysis, pedagogy, cosmology, and epistemology must align with the most marginalized in our spaces and practice. As we ruminate the realities of where the medical humanities is actively positioned at the moment in the wake of ongoing calls for global social and reparative justice, we must examine where the critical health and medical humanities sits within this discourse. Does this inter-multi-transdisicplinary engagement with medicine, health, bodies, people, culture, and society reflect the real and imagined productions from the people existing within these spaces? Are we doing enough as academics, researchers, activists, healthcare workers or creative practitioners to understand these spaces we claim to research and serve? If not, how do we actively challenge ourselves to redirect the field towards genuine inclusivity and, more importantly, dismantle systems of dominance and discrimination at this critical juncture when calls for greater ethical practice, transparency and civic responsibility in our research practice are met with resistance.

About Chisomo: Dr Kalinga is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh. Her research engages how modern and traditional literary practices (performance, form and aesthetics) are constructed by ordinary people in narratives of health and wellbeing. Her research interests are disease (specifically sexually transmitted infections), illness and wellbeing, biomedicine, and traditional healing. She is currently collaborating with her colleagues across Malawi and Southern Africa to support the Malawi Medical Humanities Network (MMHN) and the South-Africa based Medical and Health Humanities Network Africa.


Nils Fietje and Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya

Global health policy and the critical medical humanities: pasts, presents and futures

April 20, 12-1:30PM BST

What is at stake when scholarship seeks to directly influence global health policy? Nils Fietje (WHO Regional Office for Europe) and Sanjoy Bhattacharya (Professor of Medical and Global Health Histories, University of Leeds) discuss organisational cultures and the intersections of history and theory with contemporary policy and practice.

Nils Fietje – Technical Officer, WHO Regional Office for Europe 

Sharpening the double-edged sword: the role of the medical humanities in global public health policy making

Over the past ten years, the ‘critical turn’ within medical humanities has done much to challenge and complement our understanding of medicine and the practices of health care. But to what extent have the medical humanities directly influenced health policy? Is there a seat at the policy making table for research from the field? Or is this even desirable? This talk will explore why the double-edged sword of actively contributing to global health governance might be worth wielding; and how one might go about sharpening the other edge.

About Nils: Nils Fietje is a Technical Officer within the Behavioural and Cultural Insights Unit at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. He has a background in English literature and the cultural history of medicine. As part of the BCI Unit, he is leading efforts to understand how cultural contexts affect and interact with health and well-being, across the life-course and throughout the continuum of care. Recently, this work has included a particular focus on arts and health, having published the first-ever WHO report on the evidence base for arts and health interventions.

Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya – Professor of Medical and Global Health Histories, University of Leeds

Who needs to learn from WHO(m), and how?: Revisiting cultures of global health theory and practice

Global Health has different stages, involving very different actors, as well as political, social, economic and, not least, cultural frameworks. There has been a tendency in historical work to focus on offices based in Europe and North America, based on presumptions about the epistemic, economic and political primacy of the thoughts and actions within such contexts. This scholarship draws upon – and fortifies – exclusionary ideas of racial and cultural superiority that are widespread. They generally minimise the complexities of implementation and the important roles played by low and middle income country actors, who often choose not to communicate in English. So, when these voices are identified carefully and considered respectfully, what do they teach us? That culturally competent and adaptable implementation of grand ideas developed elsewhere is more important, than some exclusionary and racially superior notion of one group knowing better than others and the related wisdom of ‘nudging’ behavioural change? This talk proposes humility as a core need and strength in organisational culture, in norm making and implementation.

About Sanjoy: Sanjoy is the permanent Head of the School of History at the University of Leeds, and also the Professor of Medical and Global Health Histories. He continues to work on a decolonised history of the World Health Organisation since its inception, even as he continues to work with multiple WHO Departments and Divisions around the world, usually in partnership with regional and national governance.


Dr Ayesha Ahmad, Professor Jeremy Greene, Professor Patricia Kingori, Professor Nolwazi Mkhwanazi, Professor Stuart Murray, Dr Will Viney and Professor Jo Winning

‘Critical’: What next for medical humanities?

April 21, 12-1:30PM BST

A plenary roundtable chaired by Prof Angela Woods brings seven leading scholars together to reflect upon the past, present and future of medical humanities.

The 2023 Congress marks a decade since the ‘critical’ turn in medical humanities. This plenary roundtable reflects upon the significance and impact of this ‘critical’ turn, with an emphasis on the most important issues – thematic, methodological, structural – facing the field today. To set the scene for discussion each speaker will offer a short provocation about the past, present or future of medical humanities.

The provocations:

Will Viney: The critical value of projects in the medical humanities – projects are often created to solve problems, but what problems do they create?

Jeremy Greene: *Medical humanities* is a capacious term that is generally nonthreatening and can contain within it a diverse set of programs with entirely orthogonal social or political purposes, ranging from radical revisionings of the social order to reactionary and revanchist uses of nostalgia. In focusing our attention to a tighter beam, what are the *critical medical humanities* critical of, and who are they critical for?

Nolwazi Mkhwanazi: Medical humanities in Africa – critical, urgent or out of touch?

Ayesha Ahmad: Global Health Humanities is an act of creation. Such an act is symbolic when situating storytelling in contexts of suffering. In particular, I argue that creating stories in suffering is a mode of resistance and addresses silence in situations of silencing. To this end, storytelling is a saviour of suffering.

Stuart Murray: Both Medical Humanities and Disability Studies have experienced critical turns, but where these leave the relationship between the two remains unclear. I want to argue that both have under-acknowledged limitations as critical fields, but that the current working methods of each are well placed to critique the other, highlighting their shortcomings and speaking to some of the consequences that have come from their relative success as emerging academic disciplines.

Jo Winning: In early March 2023, the UK government announced its plans to make the UK a ‘Science and Technology Superpower’ by 2030 [] – critical medical humanities have a crucial role to play in any such plans, and must refuse the exclusion of the humanities.

Patricia Kingori: Fixations of endings in global health are a violence to which the medical humanities must pay greater attention.

Register now for NNMHR Congress 2023, 19-21 April:

Register now for CRITICAL
Posted on 14 Apr 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.

Free producer training (NNMHR Congress-related opportunity)

An exciting opportunity to get free producer training for online events!

The fifth annual congress of the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR), CRITICAL will be running from 19-21 April 2023.

Like the previous NNMHR congress in 2021—attended by over 1,300 delegates from across the globe—the 2023 congress will be 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. To ensure that the Congress runs as smoothly as possible for both presenters and participants, all sessions will be supported by an online producer.

We are recruiting a team of 20 online producers for the Congress and will provide online producer training on March 8 (10-12:30).

Run by facilitator Orla Cronin and taking place via Zoom, this 2.5 hour session will focus on the role of a producer in delivering successful virtual events. By the end of the training, attendees will have:

  • Developed a repertoire of basic troubleshooting tips and practices, including optimising screen sharing, renaming, and working with participants to solve audio problems.
  • Practiced and discussed breakout rooms from a participant and producer point of view, and finessed the way in which you set them up and manage them.
  • Practiced dealing with (role-played) security challenges.
  • Experienced several engagement activities using ‘excursions’ to different software and using in-Zoom tools.

Please note, this training is free and will provide an invaluable set of tools for participants from all fields and career stages. In exchange (and as a good way of practising these new skills in a supported team , we ask that participants act as producers for a minimum of two panels during CRITICAL.

To register for the training, please follow the link below:

The deadline for submissions is March 1 and applicants will be notified of the result no later than March 3.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

The NNMHR Congress team

What is a producer? Is this for me?

An effective producer (backroom facilitator, co-facilitator) will troubleshoot, make activities and breakout rooms happen smoothly, and ensure that outputs (recordings, documents) are available at the end of an event.

You may already be performing the role of producer, you may deeply appreciate the value of it but not tried it out yet, or, like many who come to Orla’s virtual facilitation courses, you’re not sure where to start in developing producing skills in yourself and others.

This session will enable you to build your confidence, polish your skills, and explore what can go wrong and how to either fix it or minimise the disruption. We will focus on Zoom but also consider more general implications for producing on other platforms.

Posted on 27 Feb 2023, under News.

Medical Humanities and the Ethics of Editing: Event on 12th January 2023

Announcement of the first Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR) event of 2023!

Online only.

‘Medical Humanities and the Ethics of Editing’

Medical Humanities and the Ethics of Editing image

Thursday 12th January 2023, 5pm GMT.

Click here to sign up.

Editing is one of the great skills of academic careers. It is integral to how we engage with our own written work, and also in how we build communities of knowledge exchange and collaboration – through peer review, anthologies, outreach projects, editorial board membership, Wiki-thons, offering to look at a colleague’s grant application, etc. It is this central pillar of the academy, and yet at the same time it is seldom discussed and frequently underestimated as a metric of academic success. The practices, rules, and values of editing therefore are things we frequently develop only in private. Everyone must do it, but no one tells us how to – and consequently it is not often addressed how editing speaks to difficult ethical questions of power dynamics, representation, what gets “cut”, and what gets ordered.

This NNMH: Research Practice | Practice Research is an online only event that will foreground the practice and ethics of editing as a key skill of the medical and health humanities. In a workshop panel, four leading medical humanities researchers and practitioners will highlight the applied skills and challenges they face as editors. We will be joined by Arden Hegele (Columbia), co-founder of Synapsis journal, Chase Ledin (Edinburgh), Editor-in-Chief of The Polyphony, Adam Harangozó (NIHR), Wikipedian in Residence at NIHR, and Catherine Belling (Northwestern), former Editor-in-Chief of Literature and Medicine. This will then be followed by an open roundtable with our speakers, chaired by James Rákóczi (Durham and Northumbria).

Our aim is to consider together the relationship between editing, health-related knowledge, and academic careers – particularly as they relate to central issues of the medical humanities: the representation of lived experiences of illnesses; the relation of the field to chronic illness and critical disability studies as well as to mad and neurodivergent studies; the use of patient expression and testimony; the gaps between science and humanities cultures; the intersections of care and medical practice; and the global exchange and transfer of medical information. In addition, the event will act as a practical guide and inspiration for those wishing to consider how to develop and take their editing into new directions and projects.

Arden Hegele, ‘Editing and Building Communities in Health Humanities.’

Arden Hegele is Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she also teaches in Medical Humanities. She is founding editor, with physician Rishi Goyal, of the health humanities journal Synapsis. Her recent publications include Romantic Autopsy: Literary Form and Medical Reading (Oxford University Press, 2022) and the edited volume Culture and Medicine: Critical Readings in the Health and Medical Humanities (Bloomsbury, 2022). One of the stated missions of Synapsis is to develop conversation amongst those ‘thinking about medical and humanistic ways of knowing’. Arden will discuss the origins of Synapsis as a “Department Without Walls”, and her aim as editor to build community across biomedical science, humanistic study, and public engagement.

Adam Harangozó, ‘Making Medical Knowledge Accessible.’

Adam Harangozó is the first Wikipedia Editor in Residence at the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). Adam has previously worked in a similar role for the Blinken Open Society Archives in Hungary and organises Wikipedia related events for vulnerable and less represented communities. He also writes articles regarding cultural and political issues, his latest publication being ‘Passenger Pigeon Manifesto’. His role at NIHR is to develop pathways for healthcare professionals and academics to make their research more visible and accessible through Wikipedia editing. Adam will discuss the opportunities and difficulties of this editorship role at NIHR and outline how researchers and patient representatives alike can become involved in open access healthcare communication projects.

Catherine Belling, ‘Challenges of Editing Peer-Reviewed Journals in Health Humanities Research.’

Catherine Belling is Associate Professor of Medical Education at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University. She was editor-in-chief of Literature and Medicine from 2013 to 2018 and has been Editorial Board Member of many further leading journals such as Journal for Medical Humanities and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. Her publications include A Condition of Doubt: The Meanings of Hypochondria (Oxford University Press, 2012) and multiple editorials such as ‘Reading like an editor: a farewell note’ (Literature and Medicine, 2019). Catherine will discuss the unexpected challenges and under-acknowledged responsibilities of being editor-in-chief and participating on editorial boards.

Chase Ledin, ‘Cultural Translation and Editing as Leadership.’

Chase Ledin is an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow in the Centre for Biomedicine, Self, and Society at Edinburgh University. He is acting Editor-in-Chief of The Polyphony, a Durham University-based web platform that aims to stimulate conversations in the critical medical humanities. He has published numerous research articles about representations of chronic HIV, most recently ‘Stories of HIV activists during COVID-19 in the UK’ with Olujoke Fakoya and Jaime Garcia Iglesias (2022). Chase will discuss current and upcoming intiatives of The Polyphony, such as the Polyphony Meets China project between the Narrative Medicine Research Centre (NMRC) at Southern Medical University (SMU) and Durham’s Institute for Medical Humanities. He will consider how editors relate the day-to-day decision-making of editing whilst overseeing a team of editors and cultivating broader ambitions for a journal’s future.

For further information, contact ECR Development Lead James Rákóczi at or .

Posted on 07 Dec 2022, 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.

Save the Date: NNMHR Congress April 19-21st 2023

Following the success of our 2021 Congress, we are delighted to announce the dates of the NNMHR Annual Congress 2023: Wednesday 19th April to Friday 21st April 2023.

We have decided to make the 2023 Congress another online-focused event. Back in 2021, being online meant that 1311 people from across the globe (Europe, USA, South Africa, the Middle East, India, and Australasia) engaged and participated in the Congress. We want to achieve a similar global reach and foster new collaborative possibilities.

The 2023 Congress coincides with the 10-year anniversary of a symposium held at Durham University in 2013 which marked the start of the ‘critical’ turn of medical humanities. Its theme will address this, as well as take stock of the here and now.

More details will be announced shortly, such as a Congress website, announcement of our conference theme, and a call for papers and panels. So get those pencils sharpened, because we would like you to be involved!

The main image used for NNMH Congress 2021’s theme of (In)visibility.

Posted on 12 Oct 2022, under News.

Four new NNMHR-funded Critical Medical Humanities Networks

The Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research is delighted to announce four new awards made under our first round of the New Networks in Critical Medical Humanities Funding Scheme.

This scheme attracted a high volume of quality applications: the originality, creativity and intellectual rigour demonstrated by all network proposals point towards an exciting future for critical medical humanities research. A call for a second round of proposals will be issued in early 2023.

The four successful networks will individually launch, or (as some of the networks are expansions of pre-existing projects) re-launch, over this month. Each represents innovative and incisive new directions for the critical medical humanities. All are led by non-hierarchical teams with members at differing stages of their academic careers.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of these networks, then do get in touch. You can do this by messaging NNMHR Network Coordinator Dr James Rákóczi who will happily forward you to the correct network. Or, of course, you can message the individual leads on each network project. Over to you NNMHR networks!

Broadly Conceived

  • Kate Errington
  • Jemma Walton

Broadly Conceived is a critical medical humanities network of postgraduate students and early career researchers interested in any aspect of reproduction. Established by PhD students Kate Errington (Birkbeck & London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Jemma Walton (Birkbeck) in October 2021, the network has a blog, Twitter account, and holds monthly online ‘book club’ meetings. Kate and Jemma have already organised a number of other initiatives under the Broadly Conceived banner, including interviewing author Laura Dockrill about her experiences of postpartum psychosis for Birkbeck Arts Week 2022, and hosting an online tour of the Birth Rites Collection with curator Helen Knowles. Broadly Conceived aims to establish a supportive community of repro-researchers as they embark on their scholarly careers, which will enable members to thrive both within and beyond the university.

Ends of Knowledge: Critical University Studies and the Medical Humanities

  • Dr Harriet Cooper
  • Dr James Rákóczi

Ends of Knowledge is a research network that brings working knowledges from the medical humanities into dialogue with critical university studies. What does it mean to be a practitioner of the critical medical humanities in an era of geopolitical instability, entrenched inequality, and impending climate breakdown? What forms of knowledge can the critical medical humanities produce within university-systems structured by crisis managerialisms and uncaring, unending metrics of evaluation? What kinds of relationship to power and to health are assumed through the invocation of critique and what kinds of social and political agency do academics invested in the critical medical humanities have? The Ends of Knowledge network brings together a community of practitioners loosely identified (or dis-identified) with the (critical) medical humanities. It seeks to think-with, to remain alive to the possibilities of, and to retain agency within, the junctures of the present academy and world. By re-describing medical humanities practices through the material conditions that structure the contemporary academy, it will be committed to addressing challenging questions about the meaning and location of critique, intervention, knowledge-production, and much more — especially as it relates to health-related research and activism. Check out our website, see our upcoming events, join our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter at @EndsKnowledge.

Neurodivergent Humanities

  • Dr Louise Creechan
  • Dr Louise Creechan
  • Dr Ria Cheyne
  • Dr Arya Thampuran
  • Dr Leni van Goidsenhoven
  • Sarinah O’Donoghue
  • Alice Hagopian

The Neurodivergent Humanities network will be a safe and generative space that accommodates the diverse, individual needs of scholars working in the humanities, while offering a shared sense of community and support. We will explore and pilot new modes of thinking, being, and doing research in ways that better support our needs, within and beyond institutional structures and practices. The research model we develop will reject the prevailing deficit model in neurodivergence discourse; we seek to reframe best practices as teaching, learning, and research methods that can best support the diverse needs and skills within our community in an academic environment. The network will develop an online hub to share resources, where we can consolidate our experiences of what has worked (and not worked!) in the academic spaces we have encountered, and ultimately create a more hospitable space for us to undertake our research. We will also run regular roundtable workshops to bring together scholars from different fields, to brainstorm collaboratively about better access and practices in academic spaces. Our learnings will eventually feed into a ‘manifesto on the move’, a living, co-produced document of best practices for engaging with research and supporting neurodivergence – both academically and pastorally. To sustain these connections, we will also develop a mentorship model to support one another, one that is aligned with our collaborative, non-hierarchical ethos.

Nonhuman Animals in the Medical Humanities Network (NAMHN)

  • Dr Vanessa Ashall
  • Dr Camille Bellet
  • Dr Bentley Crudgington
  • Dr Eva Haifa Giraud
  • Dr Renelle McGlacken

The Nonhuman Animals in the Medical Humanities Network (NAMHN) is a transdisciplinary research network that brings knowledges and practices from the medical humanities into conversation with animal studies. What would a science of the medical humanities in which the inclusion of nonhuman animals is no longer just a matter of multispecies care and medicine for humans, but also for nonhuman animals look like? What theoretical and methodological approaches would such a science require? Our goal is to bring together scholars from diverse disciplines, artists, writers, practitioners, and activists to rethink and revive the role of nonhuman animals in the medical humanities. We will create an exchange platform in which all interested members can participate freely and easily. Blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, or many other audio-visual creations stimulating dialogue and reflection will be regularly published there to promote new ways of thinking about and listening to nonhuman animals in the Medical Humanities. We will organise four creative workshops over the next two years, around key themes not yet defined, but chosen in collaboration with network leaders and academic and non-academic partners to give participants the opportunity to think outside the box and challenge both their knowledges and practices. A closing online exhibition inspired by these exchanges will be prepared and staged on the website at the end of 2024 to open the NAMH community to new horizons. We aim to make everyone here feel welcome, valued, supported to develop new scientific visions, innovative and ground-breaking academic networks, and find collaborative writing opportunities!

Posted on 05 Sep 2022, under News.