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08. Nov 2019

STUDY DAY - Medical Anthropology & Disability Ethnographic perspectives


The Medical Anthropology & Disability group (MA&D) invites proposals for 20-minute papers as part of a study day on medical anthropology and disability to be held on November 8, 2019, at the University of Perugia (Italy), Department of Philosophy, Social, Human and Formation Sciences (FISSUF). Papers may be delivered in Italian or in English. We would like to collect contributions about the results of theoretical and ethnographic reflections on the topic. To propose your contribution, you are asked to send the title and an abstract of the proposal (max. 250 words) to the e-mail address by September 20, 2019. Confirmation of acceptance of the proposal will be sent by October 1, 2019. Abstracts should probe issues related to disability, on the basis of the questions arising here below.

The MA&D group developed from the meeting of men and women researching in an anthropological framework about the subject of disability, after the 2nd National Convention of the Italian Society of Medical Anthropology (SIAM) held in Perugia in June 2018, entitled “An anthropology for understanding, for acting, for being engaged: The lesson of Tullio Seppilli”. Through study and research, the group intends to enhance the space of action of anthropological theory and practice within the field of disability. The perspectives of medical anthropology that we pursue do not have the intention of re-medicalizing or anthropo-medicalizing the issue of disability, but instead evoke a critical-political anthropology of the body, which is dialogical and experimental, focused on the processes of embodiment of well-being and, therefore, of health. Disability emerges as a “field”, in terms of a space of mutual recognition between social actors, and also as a contested ground regulated by relations of force. We highlight the unnatural and historically determined nature of disability. Ethnographic practice allows us to connect the most intimate experiences of “disabling” conditions with public and institutional discourses; to analyze the local effects of global processes, such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by United Nations, and the documents of international agencies; to question categories such as “vulnerability”, “marginality” and above all “functioning” and “ability”.

The group’s scientific works, in their plurality, are united by the common thread of a critical and de-essentializing ethnographic gaze, attentive to the politics of disablement of some categories of social actors and those of recognition. They aim at unveiling embodied skills and denaturalize rhetorics of empowerment, autonomy and independence in contemporary neo-liberal societies. They range from the study of developmental devices to that of active citizenship practices, from the experiences of the body in its continuous relationship with the context in which it finds itself, in the infinite possibilities opened up by insurgent practices. In the perspective outlined here, the MA&D group engages in “research with operational goals aimed at establishing self-awareness and liberation processes” (Tullio Seppilli).

The AM&D group consists of: Virginia De Silva (coordinator), Fabrizio Loce-Mandes, Massimiliano Minelli, Francesca Pistone, Giovanni Pizza, Andrea F. Ravenda, Nicoletta Sciarrino.

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07. Nov - 08. Nov 2019

SYMPOSIUM - Testing Women, Testing the Fetus 20th Anniversary Symposium


Keynote: Professor Rayna Rapp
Host: Dr Lucy Lowe (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Khiara M. Bridges (UC Berkeley)

7th – 8th November 2019
Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology
University of Edinburgh

This year marks twenty years since the publication of Professor Rayna Rapp's seminal monograph Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America. This ethnography, an award-winning classic text of feminist and medical anthropology, has inspired a generation of scholars working on reproduction, disability, genetics, bioethics, and parenting. This monograph takes us to the complex intersection of intimate family relationships, cutting-edge medical technology, race, genetic counselling, and obstetric care, underscored by classic anthropological concerns with kinship and inheritance. Rapp's question, 'What does scientific literacy mean in a culture as deeply stratified as our own?' is perhaps even more pertinent in 2019 than it was in 1999.

Reproductive technologies have developed apace in the two decades since this ground-breaking ethnography was published, as transnational scientific communities continually produce new frontiers in reproductive science and genetic technology. This period of medical advancement has been fostered in shifting spaces of reproductive politics. Laws on access to contraceptives, abortion, and assisted reproductive technologies have remained the most visible, but by no means the entirety of reproductive politics, where we continue to witness 'the intersection of personal pain and national politics.' The theoretical challenges in Testing Women continue to be relevant. Where can we locate 'moral pioneers' in contemporary medical settings? How can we make ethnographic research speak to both anthropological and medical communities?

This symposium will draw together scholars inspired by Testing Women, Testing the Fetus to explore its continued theoretical contribution in present and future research. We invite abstracts (250 words max) that speak to the themes, theories, and methodological challenges presented by Professor Rapp's work. Please send them to<> and<> by 4th September 2019.

Dr Lucy Lowe
Director, Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology

University of Edinburgh
15a George Square

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19. Sep - 20. Sep 2019

WORKSHOP - Arts of Caring, Arts of Knowing. A workshop on Dementia and Knowledge Practices



Dementia is often portrayed as the emblematic figure of morbid living in one’s later years, entailing substantial human costs to countries, societies, families and individuals” (WHO, 2017). Despite many ongoing efforts to prevent, manage, and cure dementia through biomedical means, dementia remains as a condition that is to be endured and lived with/through. At the same time, we are observing the flourishing of different forms of knowledges about living with dementia and creative engagements with dementia that aim to improve what might be called “qualities of life” of people that are affected by dementia. The notion of quality of life is also constantly challenged, negotiated, and rethought in these knowledge practices. As such, dementia offers us generative opportunities to renew our attention to the ways we know, care, and live, thereby revitalizing critical, imaginative and creative engagements with people with dementia.

Whereas the dominant discourse considers dementia as an irreversible loss of personhood, people with dementia and their carers strive to seek new possibilities of living differently with dementia. Putting together rich empirical researches in dementia care, the workshop Arts of Caring, Arts of Knowing: Dementia and Knowledge Practices aims to explore the generative potentials of dementia that urge and inspire us to rethink, imagine, tweak, improvise our ways of knowing, caring, and living as well as our analytic concepts and methods in humanities and social sciences.

The two-day workshop challenges the prevalent imaginaries about dementia in particular and older age in general that are shaped in specific politico-economic and socio-cultural contexts, not least since these make it difficult for us to creatively imagine and engage with the life with/in dementia. We invite participants from diverse disciplines who are documenting and producing alternative discourses, practices, and imaginaries about dementia, and asking questions about what it means, is and takes to live a “good” life as humans. We hope the workshop to be a venue for conceptual, practical, and methodological innovations in dementia and dementia care research throughout the world.

We seek papers that engage with the following questions, but not limited to:

  • Everyday experiments in dementia care both in informal and formal care settings
  • Production and circulation of caregiver knowledge on dementia care
  • Relationships between biomedical knowledge and caregiver knowledge on dementia
  • Mattering of “quality of life” of people with dementia and their carers in different contexts
  • Historical changes in dementia-related policies and their ethical and political implications
  • Innovative and creative engagements with dementia

If you are interested, please submit an abstract (250 words max.) including 3-5 keywords and a paper title to Jieun Lee ( and Laura Louise Heinsen ( by May 1, 2019. Due to space limitations, selected participants will be notified by mid-May, 2019. Participants will be asked to submit a short paper by the end of August, which will then be circulated among participants and discussed during the workshop. The workshop will take place in September 19-20, 2019 in Copenhagen.

The workshop is a part of the ERC funded project “The Vitality of Disease – Quality of Life in the Making” (


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12. Sep - 13. Sep 2019

CONFERENCE - Caring for Elderly and Dependent People: Promoting Gender Equality and Social Justice


Social care for dependent people and the elderly is one of the major challenges currently facing our societies. According to demographic estimations, European countries will experience an increase in their elderly population in the near decades. On one hand, the increased longevity represents an historical triumph; however, on the other it brings with it the responsibility to even greater levels of care. Moreover, chronic diseases and functional diversity will also call for help and social support.

The starting point of the conference is the urgent need to democratize care to enable societies to take on more and larger responsibilities on a sustainable basis. Care is still disproportionally provided by the family and women, as the progressive and increasing role of men in childcare is not matched by a similar level of involvement in the care of dependent people and the elderly. Ways to enabling men to enter elderly and dependent care is an urgent yet under studied issue.

The purpose of this conference is to acknowledge the current challenge of democratising care at many different levels of the care organisation. Participants will reflect on the current distribution of care work from an intersectional perspective and in different contexts like families, labour market (private for profit or not for profit, and public organisations) and in communities; as well as in global care chains. Democratising care involves socializing care responsibilities, sharing care work between men and women, recognizing care and its centrality for life sustainability, dignifying and consolidating its professionalization, and taking into account the rights and demands of the people who are giving and receiving care. Special emphasis will be placed on emerging ways of redistributing care among men and women, care recognition (caring masculinities, public involvement, communitarian initiatives, labour dignification, among others). The main purpose is to identify key elements for promoting gender justice and social justice in care.

We invite contributions that reflect on these topics and analyse new data from different contexts and situations in which dependent people and the elderly are cared for. The conference values (cross-) regional, national, and transnational perspectives.

The conference will be held in September 12th and 13th at Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona, Spain). The official languages of the conference are Spanish and English. Further information on symposia and conferences will be updated in the following weeks. The organization of the conference does not cover travel and accommodation expenses.


Abstracts, in English or Spanish, of a maximum of 500 words should include: title, name and affiliation of author/s, academic position and e-mail. They should also contain: selected thematic area, objectives, methodology, main lines of analysis and main sources, as well as 5 keywords.

Abstracts should be sent before April 30th to: The list of accepted proposals will be published on 5th of June 2019. The registration period (40€) will open on 6th of June 2019.

For any additional information, please contact with the conference administrator:

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28. Jun 2019

PODIUMSDISKUSSION - Heilungskooperationen: Was geschieht, wenn Ärzt*innen und Patient*innen aufeinandertreffen?


Ausgangspunkt dieser Podiumsdiskussion ist die Beobachtung, dass es bei dem Aufeinandertreffen von Ärzt*innen und Patient*innen immer wieder zu einem gegenseitigen Befremden kommt. Standardisierungsverfahren wie die Leitmedizin und die Evidenzbasierte Medizin, welche für Transparenz, Effizienz, Rechtssicherheit und Qualitätssicherung sorgen sollen, führen dazu, individuelles Erfahrungswissen sowohl von Ärzt*innen als auch von Patient*innen zu vernachlässigen. Besonders in Fällen, in denen sich Symptome einer eindeutigen Diagnose und chronische Erkrankungen einer Heilung entziehen, beklagen Patient*innen, dass sie zu wenig Gehör finden und ihnen ihr eigenes Erfahrungswissen abgesprochen wird. Mit der Verbreitung des Internets haben die Möglichkeiten, sich selbst über Krankheiten, ihre Ursachen und Therapiemöglichkeiten zu informieren, neue Formen angenommen und dabei neue Interaktionen und Herausforderungen in der Arzt-Patient-Beziehung mit sich gebracht.
Wir haben Ärzt*innen, Patientenvertreter*innen und Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaftler*innen eingeladen, die Ambivalenzen von Heilungskooperationen gemeinsam zu diskutieren. Wir fragen nach den möglichen Gründen für das diagnostizierte Befremden zwischen Ärzt*innen und Patient*innen und nach den Möglichkeiten einer Verbesserung dieser Situation: In welchen Bereichen wird die Mehrdeutigkeit des medizinischen Wissens zum Problem in der Arzt-Patient-Beziehung? Was vermissen Patient*innen an Ärzt*innen und umgekehrt? Was sind die Vor- und Nachteile informierter Patient*innen? Sollte sich, etwa in der Ausbildung von Mediziner*innen, etwas ändern? Wenn ja, was wäre wünschenswert und was ist realistisch?

Es diskutieren

Charles Christian Adarkwah - Vertretungsprofessor für Versorgungsforschung, Universität Siegen

Lutz Bergemann - Mitarbeiter der Geschäftsstelle des Klinischen Ethikkomitees, Universitätsklinikum Erlangen

Nicole Ernstmann - Leiterin der Forschungsstelle für Gesundheits-kommunikation und Versorgungsforschung, Universitätsklinikum Bonn

Claudia Liebram - Journalistin und Mitbegründerin und -betreiberin des Patientenforums, Berlin

Birgit Rabanus - Vorsitzende der MS-Selbsthilfegruppe Siegen e.V. und Vorsitzende des Beirats der Menschen mit Behinderung, Siegen

Nadia Schwirtzek - Fachanwältin für Medizinrecht, Gründerin und Geschäftsführerin der premedicare GmbH, Berlin, Zertifizierter Compliance Officer (SHB)

Regina Weinert - Behindertenbeauftragte der Stadt Siegen

Organisation und Moderation

Cornelius Schubert - SFB Medien der Kooperation, Universität Siegen
Ehler Voss - SFB Medien der Kooperation, Universität Siegen

Haus der Siegerländer Wirtschaft
Spandauer Straße 25
57072 Siegen


Cornelius Schubert -
Ehler Voss -

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