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29. Feb 2020

SYMPOSIUM - The Dark Side of Meditation


The symposium will be held at the Chrystal-Macmillan
Building, George Square, on Saturday 29 February 2020, 12.30-5.30pm.

Registration is free but tickets are limited:

The dark side of meditation: Understanding and overcoming difficulties on
spiritual paths and in mindfulness practice

Meditation and mindfulness have grown in popularity. A large body of
research published in recent years shows how mindfulness and meditation can
be used to ease a wide range of mental and physical problems. Yet hardly
anybody has looked into problems that can arise through or along with these

For some, meditation can be accompanied by difficulties that go beyond the
inability to calm one’s mind: Half-forgotten experiences might be remembered
that are upsetting for the practitioner. Meditators might see lights or have
visions. They might feel that their body is moving uncontrollably, that they
do not inhabit their body anymore in the way they did before, or that energy
is moving through them. Insights acquired during meditation might change a
person’s way of seeing the world, and they might find themselves unable to
continue living their life in the same way as before. Some people begin to
doubt some of their fundamental beliefs and fall into a “dark night of the

Many meditators are unsure how to make sense of these unusual experiences
and do not know where to turn for help. For a few, their experiences during
and after meditation become unmanageable and psychiatrists diagnose them
with psychosis, PTSD, depression or anxiety disorder. While psychiatry sees
these experiences as unwanted “side effects” of meditation, spiritual
traditions often value them and recognize them as opportunities for growth.

In this symposium, we will try to find bridges between the different ways of
explaining meditators’ experiences. Experts from clinical psychology,
anthropology, mindfulness and different religious backgrounds will discuss
the experience of spiritual emergencies, different factors that influence
them, and ways of working through them.

Keynote lectures:
Dr Christine Kupfer, Social/Medical Anthropology & Education Studies,
Dr Liane Hofmann, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental
Health (IGPP), Freiburg, Germany.
Dr Isabel Clarke, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Spiritual Crisis
Network Director, Southampton.

Dr Andrew Watson, Chief Psychiatrist for NHS Lothian Dr Audrey Millar,
Consultant Clinical Psychologist NHS, Edinburgh Dr Kitty Wheater, Edinburgh
University Mindfulness Chaplain, Medical Anthropology, Edinburgh Isaac
Portilla, Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP), University
of St. Andrews Richard Johnston, Director of Christian Mindfulness, Fife,

Tickets are free but there is a suggested donation of Ł5/ Ł3 (concessions)
at the venue to pay for coffee, tea and biscuits.

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08. Feb - 15. Feb 2020

FILM FESTIVAL - Dutch Global Health Film Festival



More information:

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04. Feb - 05. Feb 2020

WORKSHOP - Digital (mental) health? On new orientation of diagnosis, treatment, and self-help through the use of digital media


Workshop of the collaborative research project „Automated modelling of hermeneutic processes – The use of annotation in social research and the humanities for analyses on health" (hermA) on the 4th and 5th February 2020 in Hamburg

As the digitalisation of health systems is progressing, an intensive discussion of the norms and values concerning this process has begun. Regarding the field of diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, as well as the storage of the data that is produced in the course of this, new questions arise. Digital devices are used increasingly in the various processes in the health system, with which data is collected and stored digitally. As a result, questions concerning the changing relationship between health care providers, patients, and the technical infrastructure, as well as regarding the processing, storing, and analysis of the thus created data emerge. At the same time, the communication and the manners in which knowledge is generated in the field of illness and health in the digital sphere change, as in such cases as consulting „Dr. Google", viewing videos on YouTube, or using apps as a way of treatment or for monitoring your own health.

The workshop aims to differentiate the research area of digital health care and communication with a focus on mental health. This thematic context offers links to the methods of the Digital Humanities and the Computational Social Sciences and their further development within the thematic field of interest. The workshop will have two core themes:

  1. Digital (mental) health care

What kind of data exists and is generated on the institutional, economic, and personal level within the health care system? How can the structured analysis of (long-term) data facilitate diagnoses and treatments? How is the increasing access to „big data" changing the health care system?

What possibilities do apps offer in the context of treatment, for example in the area of emotional and mental support? How do these work together with „analogue" treatments? In which cases do doctors and health professionals offer remote treatment, in which are chatbots used, and where are the both combined? Who designs these formats, and what do the usage and interactions facilitated by them look like?

  1. Digital health communication

What new forms of health communication emerge and persist in the process of digitalisation? What role do blogs and social media communities play in health communication? Where can one find professional services online and how are these used? How are images of mental and physical health conveyed as a result?

Both perspectives have in common that they are asking after evaluations and the acceptance of the changing field of health, as well as the appertaining norms being negotiated. The workshop's goal is to examine these perspectives in an interdisciplinary context and bring them together productively in order to work together to develop them further. Because of this, we explicitly welcome conceptual or theoretical contributions that are still at an early stage of development. Subsequent to the workshop, a further collaboration of the participants is aimed for.

Please send your abstract for a paper of 20 minutes to until the 30th of November 2019. The abstract should be 1-2 pages including references. Please also enclose a short biographical note. A reimbursement of travel expenses is possible.

Organisation and planning: Lina Franken, Gertraud Koch, Heike Zinsmeister



Dr. Lina Franken

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin

Universität Hamburg

Institut für Volkskunde/Kulturanthropologie

Forschungsverbund „Automatisierte Modellierung hermeneutischer Prozesse" (hermA)

Grindelallee 46

20146 Hamburg

Tel.: +49 40 42838-9943



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05. Dez 2019

WORKSHOP - Kinship, Chronic Illness and Responsibility of Care


*Date:* December 5, 2019, Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology, Social
Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
*Discussants:*  Janet Carsten, Jacob Copeman and Ian Harper.
*Contact*: Emilija Zabiliūtė
*Abstract submission deadline*: September 7, 2019

Chronic illness demands extensive care in patients’ everyday lives, and
often redefines what it means to be a person, a family member and a carer.
It reorganizes subjectivities, affective and embodied intensities of
familial relations in patient’s everyday lives, and their temporalities. It
calls into attention the responsibilities of care and their
transformations. Borrowing Levinas’ notion of responsibility as an ethical
orientation of subjectivity towards the others, the workshop invites papers
to reflect on the ways in which care for chronic illness challenges,
reinforces and shapes the modes, practices and ethics of kinship and
relatedness. The concept of responsibility here serves to interrogate the
ethical orientations of intimacy, relationality and its infinity, and
obligation in lives of families with chronic conditions. It also allows to
explore how families navigate the normative moral and medical regimes
eliciting responsibilities amidst chronic suffering.
This call invites participants to contribute with papers drawing on
ethnographic fieldworks across diverse regions and settings, both in the
Global North and the Global South. The participants will be asked to
circulate the papers in advance. Please submit your abstract of no more
than 400 words to Emilija Zabiliūtė (
<>) by September 7, 2019.

Participants' travel/accommodation costs will be partially covered.
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02. Dez - 05. Dez 2019

PANEL - What do they value? Anthropological perspectives on health-related professions


Papers are invited for a panel at the Australian Anthropological Society’s
annual conference, related to ethnographic perspectives of the
health-related professions. The panel seeks to explore how/why medical and
healthcare professionals give the advice that they give; and how/why do
they make the decisions that they make about diagnoses and treatment
possibilities, especially when medical knowledges are both increasingly
contested and rapidly changing?

Short abstract:

How and why do medical professionals give the advice that they give? This panel seeks to explore the professions of medicine and healthcare, unpacking the values held by the various fields that influence individual health-care providers' decision-making, diagnosis and treatment activities.

Long abstract:

Although anthropologists have been adding value in studies of institutions and organisations since the Hawthorne Studies in the 1930s, there has been significantly less anthropological work done on the cultures that develop in professions. This panel invites anthropologists and anthropology-adjacent researchers to reflect on the culture/s of the medical and healthcare professions, in a bid to try to understand how and why those cultures have emerged as they have. What are the changes to medical, health and wellness theory; the changes to the way medicine and health is taught; the changing moral and ethical considerations throughout society/ies, and/or; the technological innovations that have influenced the norms and values held in contemporary healthcare landscapes? What are the intersections between the individual professional identities of healthcare providers and the emergent culture of their professions? Although papers are invited from multiple perspectives, across a broad range of subfields within medicine and health, and from any geographical location or cultural frame of reference, the panel will ultimately seek to explore the questions: how and why do medical and healthcare professionals give the advice that they give? How and why do they make the decisions that they make about diagnoses and treatment possibilities when medical knowledges are both increasingly contested and rapidly changing?

Papers from outside the Australian context are encouraged. For more
details, see the AAS website:

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