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AGEM-ANNUAL CONFERENCE 32 – Aesthetics of Healing. Working with the Senses in Therapeutic Contexts

01. Jan­u­ar 1970 

Gezeigt wer­den fokussierte filmis­che Minia­turen und Arrange­ments aus der Kam­era-Ethno­gra­phie im Pro­jekt „Frühe Kind­heit und Smartphone“…

32nd Annu­al Con­fer­ence of the Arbeits­ge­mein­schaft Eth­nolo­gie und Medi­zin e.V. (AGEM) in Coop­er­a­tion with the Insti­tute of Eth­nol­o­gy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Münster

Dear mem­bers and inter­est­ed people,
Due to numer­ous reg­is­tra­tions and the resources avail­able, we can unfor­tu­nate­ly no longer accept reg­is­tra­tions for the 32nd AGEM con­fer­ence on „Aes­thet­ics of Heal­ing” in Münster/Westf. But of course all mem­bers are still cor­dial­ly invit­ed to join the gen­er­al meet­ing on 26.05.2019 at 14:30. If you have any ques­tions please con­tact Hel­mar Kurz:

The con­cept of aes­thet­ics cov­ers very dis­tinct aspects and mean­ings. In pub­lic dis­course, it relates to ways of human expres­sion includ­ing the arts, the­ater, music and dance and its appraisal through cat­e­gories such as „beau­ti­ful” or „grace­ful.” Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the orig­i­nal mean­ing of the ancient Greek word „aísthē­sis,” the con­cept relates to sen­so­ry per­cep­tion as delim­it­ed from ratio­nal- cog­ni­tive process­es. To dis­cuss „aes­thet­ics of heal­ing” thus means to focus sen­so­ry aspects of ther­a­py and to inte­grate them into a the­o­ry of the mean­ing and effec­tive­ness of heal­ing prac­tices. Dur­ing the „per­for­ma­tive turn” of the social and cul­tur­al sci­ences in the 1980s, this idea main­ly relat­ed to sym­bol­ic prac­tices to rit­u­al­ly resolve psy­choso­cial con­flicts. Since the 2000s, it also depicts an inte­gra­tion of med­ical and sen­so­ry anthro­pol­o­gy: the capac­i­ty of the human sen­so­ri­um to per­ceive and to react to stim­uli from the envi­ron­ment or the prop­er organ­ism is cen­tral to per­cep­tion and inter­ac­tion in the ther­a­peu­tic con­text. Heal­ing prac­tices can address, inten­si­fy or dimin­ish dif­fer­ent sen­so­ry func­tions, and mean­ing and assess­ment of the par­tic­u­lar sens­es dif­fer in dis­tinct cul­tur­al and social frame­works. Research on the inter­re­la­tion of cul­ture and the sen­so­ri­um has pro­duced the insight, that humans con­sist of more than the five sens­es (see­ing, hear­ing, smelling, tast­ing, touch) repro­duced in pub­lic dis­course. Bod­i­ly sen­sa­tions like inte­ro­cep­tion, pain, empa­thy or medi­umship thus con­sti­tute anoth­er vital source for the com­pre­hen­sion of health, ill­ness, and heal­ing. The inter­sec­tion of religious/spiritual and ther­a­peu­tic prac­tices is of par­tic­u­lar inter­est here. Reli­gious-spir­i­tu­al heal­ing prac­tices require the acqui­si­tion and cul­ti­va­tion of spe­cif­ic per­cep­tion­al process­es, includ­ing the shift of sen­so­ry atten­tion and bod­i­ly expres­sion. Con­se­quent­ly, cop­ing strate­gies and explana­to­ry mod­els of ill­ness often do not refer to cognitive/rational, but to bodily/sensory per­cep­tion­al forms. Fur­ther, con­tem­po­rary pop­u­lar heal­ing and health prac­tices like yoga, med­i­ta­tion and mind­ful­ness train­ing focus on mul­ti­ple bod­i­ly sen­sa­tions and are increas­ing­ly inte­grat­ed into the psy­chother­a­peu­tic con­text. This ten­den­cy also unfolds per­spec­tives on mech­a­nisms of the insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion and com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of these prac­tices and relat­ed polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic dynamics.

With a few excep­tions, the cur­rent inter­dis­ci­pli­nary dis­course reduces to the insight that cul­ture, embod­i­ment and emo­tion are inter­re­lat­ed with­out real­ly open­ing the „black box” of bod­i­ly and sen­so­ry process­es and dynam­ics. We thus have lit­tle knowl­edge on how sen­su­al­i­ty and sen­so­ry manip­u­la­tion influ­ence health-seek­ing behav­ior, ther­a­peu­tic deci­sion-mak­ing and the estab­lish­ment of heal­ing coop­er­a­tion in the con­text of increas­ing med­ical diver­si­ty. In a con­fer­ence in Berlin in Sep­tem­ber 2018, the CRC „Affec­tive Soci­eties” intro­duced the the­o­ret­i­cal approach of „affec­tive arrange­ments” in ther­a­peu­tic envi­ron­ments, ini­ti­at­ing an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary dis­cus­sion of sen­so­ry- emo­tion­al fac­tors of (men­tal) health, well-being, and ther­a­peu­tic poten­tials and deficits in the con­text of cur­rent cul­tur­al, social, (health-)political, and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ments. In coop­er­a­tion with the CRC „Media of Coop­er­a­tion” at the Uni­ver­si­ty in Siegen/Germany, AGEM car­ries out two con­fer­ences on „Prepar­ing for Patients” (June 2018) and „Prepar­ing for Physi­cians” (June 2019). Fur­ther devel­op­ing relat­ed approach­es, our aim is to now explore the men­tioned aspects, ques­tions and prob­lems with the focus on „aes­thet­ics of heal­ing.” We thus invite you to par­tic­i­pate in our dis­cus­sion on „work­ing with the sens­es” in the con­text of health, ill­ness, and heal­ing. We want to inves­ti­gate how sen­so­ry modal­i­ties influ­ence ther­a­py as a trans­for­ma­tion of self, per­cep­tion and expe­ri­ence and how they are embed­ded in social and hier­ar­chi­cal rela­tions and polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic dynam­ics. Our broad spec­trum will inte­grate diverse approach­es to sen­so­ry expe­ri­ence in the con­text of health, ill­ness and heal­ing. The con­fer­ence will be inter- and trans­dis­ci­pli­nary: cul­tur­al and social sci­en­tists, med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, psy­chother­a­pists, phys­io­ther­a­pists, nurs­es, music and art ther­a­pists, prac­ti­tion­ers of com­ple­men­tary and alter­na­tive med­i­cines, as well as patients and rel­a­tives are wel­come to con­tribute with their expe­ri­ence, exper­tise and evaluation.

Ques­tions of inter­est include, but are not lim­it­ed to:

What is the impor­tance of sen­so­ry per­cep­tion in dif­fer­ent heal­ing practices?
To what extent are sen­su­al­i­ty and aes­thet­ics rel­e­vant fac­tors for ill­ness expe­ri­ence, health behav­ior and ther­a­py decision?
How do dif­fer­ent ther­a­peu­tic prac­tices address the par­tic­u­lar senses?
Which pat­terns of (self-)perception are gen­er­at­ed and cultivated?
What is the impor­tance of place, equip­ment and substances?
Is there a dif­fer­ence between treat­ment at home and out- or inpa­tient treatment?
How do sen­so­ry aspects of ther­a­py con­tribute to the diver­si­ty of the health sector?
Which social, polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic dynam­ics are involved?
What is the impor­tance of “aes­thet­ics of heal­ing” for the inte­gra­tion, com­ple­men­tar­i­ty or com­pe­ti­tion of dif­fer­ent health and heal­ing practices?



Intro­duc­tion – Pro­gramme – Venue


Jonas Eick­hoff: jonas.eickhoff@t‑
Hel­mar Kurz: