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Social sciences debating health and discussing care: Euro-american perspectives and transatlantic dialogs

Santé en débat, soin en question : perspectives euro-américaines et dialogues transatlantiques en sciences humaines et sociales

La salud en debate, el cuidado en discusión: perspectivas euro-americanas y diálogos trasatlánticos en ciencias humanas y sociales

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Published on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 by Anastasia Giardinelli

Summary

This event hopes to further discussions on the role of the State in the implementation of public health policies. We will also look into the responses given to these policies, whether they are judged too interventionist (denouncing dispossession of knowledges described as traditional) or insufficient (demanding for comprehensive and equitable care). We seek to to analyze the changes coming from the "left hand" of the State, in the contemporary neo-liberal framework, its genesis and its historical counter-examples. After a first day of sessions dedicated to scientific presentations, in a multidisciplinary framework open to all social sciences, the symposium also aims to open a space for exchanges with civil society. We would also like to take into account the international circulation of notions –  as expressed by the phrase "obstetric violence", which both owes much to Latin American spaces and have had its meaning changed through such circulations.

Announcement

Argument

Over the recent years, health has generated a growing interest from scholars in various fields of American studies, understood in their hemispheric meaning – one that includes southern, central, northern Americas and the Caribbean. In Latin America, research in the history of science and health has been renewed for more than two decades, in particular in Brazil where the journal Manguinhos. História, Ciências, Saúde was founded in 1994. Initially focused on social history of public health and on the cultural dimension of medicine, the scientific production of the region has adopted over time a political and even biopolitical approach to medicine. The case of Peru offers an example of such a regional renewal, though it is still recent: new questions have emerged since the 1990s, among which the history of pathologies and epidemics in the 20th century. While research has only just begun in regards to specialties of Western medicine dealing with women's health (obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics) , the work of Marcos Cueto has turned health into a social phenomenon, now legitimately to be approached from a diachronic, both continental and global perspective. In this sense, his works can be compared to those of Sylvia Chiffoleau on Egyptian doctors or on the construction of internationalised public action in health.

Health thus provides social sciences with a relevant multidisciplinary object of analysis of contemporary societies - to such an extent that it gave rise to a field of study of its own on a number of American campuses, that of "medical humanities" - and triggers the production of varied sources (scientific articles, institutional reports, patient files, entry records, judicial and press documentation, oral interviews, medical literature) whose integration has renewed its study. The history of medicine has turned into the history of health. It now intends to give a wider space to documents that attest to both practices and discourses, and nourishes a broader concern for patients’ points of view than that which had hitherto been limited to the exclusive prism of health professionals – a characteristic which makes for a "bronze historiography", according to Cristina Sacristán's formula on the history of psychiatry  – resulting into an exclusively endogenous narrative.

The definition of the term health itself has been extended beyond its strict medical meaning: it now includes a set of social practices that not longer takes for granted the authority of medical instances. The case of vaccination offers a good example of such an authority being at time questioned and challenged: parts of Western world see its legitimacy diminished in a current context of defiance towards public institutions (see the case of French department Drôme for instance, locus of a measles resurgence). It is also the case of maternity management in certain areas described as peripheral, where so-called both modern and traditional knowledge sometimes collide and others embark onto negotiating arrangements; and that of episiotomy, which is currently the subject of debate, in both American and European spaces.

Our first gathering, held in Rouen (Normandy) and Paris in September 2019, showed questions related to health echo problems formulated around the notion of care, revisited both by social sciences during the last few decades and by recent social movements in the Americas and Europe. This first day was devoted to discussing the use of the intersectional tool to address these issues, and to discussing the relevance of the feminist and decolonial perspective to account for the underlying rationale which drives the institutions and makes for a questioned, non-linear medical order in which non-consensual definitions of modernity are at stake. For example, if Mounia El-Kotni's work on Mexican midwives showed the imposition of an order that excludes them to the benefit of Mexican State at the beginning of the 21st century, Norah Jaffary's work on Mexico at the turn from the colonial to the republican period suggests a lesser omnipotence of the State over women's bodies and a less clear distribution of roles between male doctors and female qualified midwives. In the end, these studies and our first vivid discussion encourage us to consider health as a gateway that allows us to examine the changing nature and faces of the State in the medium term of modern times.

The second part of these scientific exchanges will next take the form of an international conference, to be held at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Grenoble, France on November 18-19, 2020. This event hopes to further discussions on the role of the State in the implementation of public health policies. We will also look into the responses given to these policies, whether they are judged too interventionist (denouncing dispossession of knowledges described as traditional) or insufficient (demanding for comprehensive and equitable care). We seek to to analyze the changes coming from the "left hand" of the State, in the contemporary neo-liberal framework, its genesis and its historical counter-examples. After a first day of sessions dedicated to scientific presentations, in a multidisciplinary framework open to all social sciences, the symposium also aims to open a space for exchanges with civil society. We would also like to take into account the international circulation of notions –  as expressed by the phrase "obstetric violence", which both owes much to Latin American spaces and have had its meaning changed through such circulations.

Expected papers for the conference may thus come from varied disciplines of social sciences (history, anthropology, political science, geography, law, sociology, etc.), but those coming from health specialists are also welcome. They can address different geographical areas – the Americas and Europe in the first place, but we do not necessarily exclude proposals on other geographical areas providing these reflect on influences, circulations, and dialogues on a global scale. Here are some questions papers may address:

  1. Implementation of public health policies, in terms of vaccination, contraception or non-contraception, food. What debates are going on regarding taxonomies, technical innovations, the division between the hospital field and urban and rural medicine? What conception of modernity guides the implementation of institutional reforms?
  2. Questioning and contesting dominant medical orders: How do populations respond to these policies? Do people question their interventionism, their inadequacy or their insufficence? In other terms, do they ask for more, less, or for something else?
  3. The place and role of health professionals: They are at the crossroads of requests that are not necessarily contradictory but, to say the least, multiple and multiform. The role of health workers is being questioned: is this a new issue? What colonial legacy sustains contemporary medical institutions? What aggiornamento have they embarked on in post-colonial times? What tensions underly the field of medical practices, between midwives, doctors, nurses, administrators?
  4. Historicizing mental health: What paradigms have guided the care of patients diagnosed with mental illnesses? What populations lived in mental health facilities and what was their sociological profile (in terms of class, race, age, gender, sexuality and geographical origins)? What role did psychiatrists play in writing the history of their profession (and beyond, as in the case of Pacho O'Donnell for example)? What place did other personnel occupy in psychiatric hospitals? From a historiographical point of view, what are the contributions and limits of anti-psychiatric perspectives?
  5. Alternative approaches to mental health: What other conceptions of mental health emanate from peripheral spaces? What type of "medicalization" have they fostered (particularly in pharmaceutical terms)? What controversies has hospital and community-based care raised in American societies? How did care and diagnosis evolve over time and in relation to geographical space?

Submission Guidelines

Paper proposals may be submitted until the 30th April 2020

to the following email adresses: irene.favier@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr; lissell.quiroz@univ-rouen.fr. They won’t exceed 4000 signs (including spaces and bibliography) and will receive a response before June 1st. The presentation can be made in spanish, french, english, and portuguese.

In case of a positive answer, the full text of the communication must be sent to the organizers before September 30th. The budget for the event includes meals and one night in Grenoble, but the organisation committee will not necessarily be able to cover transport. We therefore invite you to ask your affiliated institutions to cover at least part of these expenses. Proposals from graduate students are welcome.

Organizing commitee

  • Irène Favier (LARHRA, University Grenoble Alpes)
  • Lissell Quiroz (ERIAC-IRIHS, University de Rouen Normandie)

Scientific committee

  • Claudia Agostoni, UNAM (Mexico)
  • Isabelle von Bueltzingsloewen, Université Lyon 2 (France)
  • Paulo Drinot, UCL (UK)
  • Rafael Huertas, CSIC (Spain)
  • Jennifer Lambe, Brown (USA)
  • Jorge Lossio, PUCP (Peru)

Sponsoring institutions: LARHA, ERIAC, IRIHS, Institut des Amériques, MSH Paris Nord.

Places

  • MSH
    Grenoble, France (38)

Date(s)

  • Thursday, April 30, 2020

Contact(s)

  • Lissell Quiroz
    courriel : lissell [dot] quiroz [at] univ-rouen [dot] fr

Information source

  • Lissell Quiroz
    courriel : lissell [dot] quiroz [at] univ-rouen [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Social sciences debating health and discussing care: Euro-american perspectives and transatlantic dialogs », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, https://calenda.org/757704

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