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AGEM Jahrestagung 34 – Visual Expressions of Health, Illness and Healing

02. Juni – 04. Juni 2022 

34th Annu­al Con­fer­ence of the Asso­ci­a­tion for Anthro­pol­o­gy and Med­i­cine (AGEM) in Coop­er­a­tion with the Aus­tri­an Eth­nomed­ical Soci­ety and Welt­mu­se­um Wien in Vien­na, Austria

Please down­load the PROGRAM here (UPDATED ON MAY 30).

Please down­load the BOOK OF ABSTRACTS here.


Visu­al­iza­tion of med­ical top­ics to com­mu­ni­cate aspects of health, suf­fer­ing, dis­eases and ther­a­peu­tic inter­ven­tion may be used in dif­fer­ent ways. Depend­ing on set­ting, pur­pose and audi­ence, images may be cre­at­ed not only as a didac­tic tool in order to explain med­ical con­tent. Embed­ded in their respec­tive social and wider con­texts, artists around the world use their works to draw atten­tion to social and dis­ease-relat­ed suf­fer­ing. Depic­tion can be done in the con­text of ther­a­py, in the edu­ca­tion­al train­ing of prospec­tive med­ical pro­fes­sion­als root­ed in their med­ical cul­tures as well as on a broad­er soci­etal stage. Sim­ple sketch­es, vivid comics, elab­o­rate paint­ings or com­put­er-aid­ed sim­u­la­tions, to name just a few pos­si­bil­i­ties, are used to direct­ly illus­trate top­ics that are often dif­fi­cult to access through lan­guage alone. They not only facil­i­tate under­stand­ing, but also enable aware­ness of and dis­cus­sion about top­ics rel­e­vant to health. Pic­tures or draw­ings of the inner state and oth­er visu­al tools can make it eas­i­er for patients to demon­strate and artic­u­late their psy­cho­log­i­cal or phys­i­cal com­plaints and body perception.

We will explore the many ways of visu­al expres­sion in the con­text of heal­ing and look at options of their use for indi­vid­ual heal­ing, edu­ca­tion or social aware­ness. This also rais­es the ques­tion of which type of visu­al­i­sa­tion is appeal­ing to whom. The con­fer­ence shall be aligned inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and trans­dis­ci­pli­nary with a focus on visu­al med­ical anthro­pol­o­gy and tran­scul­tur­al med­ical human­i­ties. Researchers, artists, cura­tors, health pro­fes­sion­als as well as patients and their rel­a­tives are invit­ed to con­tribute with their expe­ri­ence and exper­tise. The AGEM meet­ing 2022 will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of the pre­vi­ous meet­ing „Aes­thet­ics of Heal­ing: Work­ing with the Sens­es in Ther­a­peu­tic Con­texts” which took place in 2019.

It is the aim of the orga­niz­ers that the con­fer­ence will be a trib­ute to Prof. Armin Prinz (1945–2018), physi­cian and anthro­pol­o­gist, who was the first Pro­fes­sor of Med­ical Anthro­pol­o­gy (Eth­nomedi­zin) in Aus­tria and a spe­cial­ist for visu­al med­ical anthro­pol­o­gy. He found­ed the Aus­tri­an Eth­nomed­ical Soci­ety (Öster­re­ichis­che Eth­nomedi­zinis­che Gesellschaft) and estab­lished a col­lec­tion of numer­ous eth­nomed­ical objects and paint­ings, which were donat­ed to the Welt­mu­se­um Wien in 2017.

Questions and topics of interest

  • How are health top­ics rep­re­sent­ed visu­al­ly in par­tic­u­lar med­ical cultures?
  • How do artists illus­trate dis­ease-relat­ed issues in their work?
  • What images do patients use to express their complaints?
  • What images do doc­tors and heal­ers use to com­mu­ni­cate diag­noses, med­ical con­cepts, and ther­a­peu­tic interventions?
  • What form of vis­i­bil­i­ty is help­ful for those affected?
  • How should images of dis­ease and ther­a­py be shown in exhibitions?
  • What role do images play in teach­ing med­ical knowl­edge in edu­ca­tion, ther­a­py and pub­lic health.
  • What visu­al means do med­ical cul­tures use to illus­trate com­plex con­tent in education?
  • Visu­al doc­u­men­ta­tion of heal­ing rit­u­als and cer­e­monies: films, pho­tos or paintings
  • Demon­stra­tion of health issues through per­for­mance and theatre
  • Visu­al expres­sions of struc­tur­al vio­lence in pub­lic health
  • The pow­er of images: illit­er­a­cy and health education
  • Visu­al med­ical anthro­pol­o­gy in museums
  • Med­ical comics and med­ical graphics

General information

Con­fer­ence lan­guage: English

The con­fer­ence is orga­nized by the Öster­re­ichis­che Eth­nomedi­zis­che Gesellschaft (ÖEG) in coop­er­a­tion with Arbeits­ge­mein­schaft Eth­nolo­gie und Medi­zin (AGEM) and Welt­mu­se­um Wien.

It will be orga­nized by Katha­ri­na Sabernig (Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na), Doris Burtsch­er (Médecins sans Fron­tières) and Ruth Kutalek (Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty of Vienna).

Fur­ther coop­er­a­tions are planned with the fol­low­ing part­ners: Work­ing Group for His­to­ry of Med­i­cine and Med­ical Human­i­ties of the ÖAW, ISA (Insti­tute for Social Anthro­pol­o­gy of the ÖAW), Insti­tute of Cul­tur­al and Social Anthro­pol­o­gy (IKSA) of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vienna.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the con­fer­ence is free of charge for pre­sen­ters, but reim­burse­ment of trav­el and accom­mo­da­tion expens­es is not cov­ered by the con­fer­ence and will be borne by the participant.

A pub­li­ca­tion of select­ed con­tri­bu­tions in the jour­nal Curare is planned.

Helden­platz, 1010 Wien: Forum

Active par­tic­i­pants, stu­dents, unem­ployed, ÖEG and AGEM mem­bers: free entrance con­fer­ence fee: € 50, day tick­et: € 20 (Öster­re­ichis­che Eth­nomedi­zinis­che Gesellschaft, Dr. Ruth Kutalek: IBAN: AT49 2011 1000 0334 5394)

Reg­is­tra­tion required. Please con­tact Katha­ri­na Sabernig at