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Embodied chronicity: severe conditions and the promises of therapeutic innovations

EASA Medical Anthropology Network 2017, Biannual Conference Network Meeting, Panel 19

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Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2017


This panel focuses on researches into the embodiment of chronicity, with a special attention to controversies around the definition of chronicity and the promises of chronicization linked to innovations in therapies. In this panel we are both interested in analyses of biomedical research and of illness experiences.



Therapeutic innovations are increasingly blurring the boundaries between terminal and chronic conditions, and this has an impact on the body, which is caught in the middle of this muddled line. Patients with conditions such as a HIV-positive status, different types of cancer, or with a severe cardiovascular disease, cannot be cured, but therapeutic innovations, such as antiretroviral therapies or monoclonal antibodies, can slow down the progress of their disease, turning a terminal condition into a chronic one. These new therapies are stretching and redefining the term chronic, and also the image of the chronically ill body, as the materiality of the body is split among different ideas and forms of management of these new chronic conditions.

Along with the comprehension of biological processes of degeneration or senescence, biomedicine envisions chronicity in terms of both quantitative and qualitative indicators. Thus, metrics referring to the quantity of life added – i.e. survival times – and quality of life are labelling ‘chronic disease’ in controversial yet standardized ways. However, the illness experience of the patients and the clinical experiences of medical professionals reflect a more complex body, embedded in various temporalities, which can have variable levels of autonomy, responsivity and predictability. In this context chronicity may be an ambiguous and fleeting idea.

In order to explore these phenomena, for this panel we seek ethnographic or more theoretical contributions analyzing the sociotechnical constitution of chronic disease, the visualization of the body, and the bodily experience within the changing landscapes of chronicity.

We are interested both in the ways of envisioning the sick body in biomedical research that define conditions as chronic or promise their chronicization, and in the illness experience of patients and clinical experience of medical professionals.

Submission guidelines

Deadline for proposals: April 1st, 2017

If you are interested, please send your proposal to Cinzia Greco cinzia.greco@manchester.ac.uk and Nils Graber nils.graber@ehess.fr

Paper proposals should be submitted in English and should consist of:

  •  Paper title, short abstract (up to 50 words), long abstract (up to 300 words);
  •  Name and e-mail of paper proponent(s) with institutional affiliation.

Paper proposals will be evaluated by panel coordinators. The list of papers accepted will be announced on April 15th, 2017.


1. Cinzia Greco, (post-doc, Newton International Fellow, CHSTM, University of Manchester) [e-mail]


2. Nils Graber, (PhD candidate, EHESS/CERMES3) [e-mail]


  • Lisbon, Portugal


  • Saturday, April 01, 2017


  • medical anthropology, body, chronicity, chronic illness, therapeutic innovations


  • Cinzia Greco
    courriel : cinzia [dot] greco [at] manchester [dot] ac [dot] uk
  • Nils Graber
    courriel : grabernils [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Cinzia Greco
    courriel : cinzia [dot] greco [at] manchester [dot] ac [dot] uk


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Embodied chronicity: severe conditions and the promises of therapeutic innovations », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/x7n

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