HomeSocial sciences debating health and discussing care

HomeSocial sciences debating health and discussing care

Social sciences debating health and discussing care

Santé en débat, soin en question

La salud en debate, el cuidado en discusión

Euro-american perspectives and transatlantic dialogs

Perspectives euro-américaines et dialogues transatlantiques en sciences humaines et sociales

Perspectivas euro-americanas y diálogos trasatlánticos en humanidades y ciencias sociales

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Published on Thursday, May 07, 2020


Second temps de la mise en place d'un groupe de travail international, ce colloque souhaite continuer d'explorer la santé et la notion, tantôt corollaire tantôt contrepoint, de soin, dans les espaces américains. Il s'inscrit dans l'axe santé de la Maison des sciences de l'homme-Paris Nord pour l'année 2020. Ce colloque vise à interroger la notion de santé et ses enjeux sociaux, dans les Amériques et au-delà. Elle souhaite également questionner les processus de circulation, et leurs effets de réception, de l'héritage au contre-sens éventuel, comme dans le cas de la notion de violence obstétricale par exemple. Si les domaines de l'obstétrique, la santé publique et la psychiatrie sont particulièrement attendus, les contributions peuvent aborder divers autres domaines.


International conference, Grenoble, France, MSH, november 18-19, 2020


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, Saúdewas founded in 1994. Initially focused on social history of public health and on the cultural dimension of medicine1, the scientific production of the region has adopted over time a political and even biopolitical approach to medicine2. 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 century3. While research has only just begun in regards to specialties of Western medicine dealing with women's health (obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics)4, the work of Marcos Cueto5 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 health6.

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 psychiatry7– 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 grantedthe 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 Americanand Europeanspaces.

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 mayaddress:

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 institutionalreforms?

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 somethingelse?

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?

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-psychiatricperspectives?

Thinking health on Covid-19 time.

A new infectious disease, the coronavirus has spread worldwide from the end of 2019. It has heavily hit Western Europe and some countries in the Americas (United States, Canada, Brazil). While it is too early to produce detailed analyses of the very different contexts in the countries concerned, we think it is interesting to propose, during this symposium, a space for exchange in which to think and debate about what the pandemic is doing to health research in the social sciences. How has the pandemic been perceived and fought against both in Europe and in the Americas? What are its effects on the way we approach our health research, especially from an intersectional perspective?

Submission guidelines

Paper proposals may be submitted until 15 June 2020

to the following email;

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 October 1st. 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.


1CUETOMarcos, LOSSIOJorge, PASCOCarol,El rastro de la Salud en el Perú, Lima: Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, 2009, p. 14.

2HOCHMANGilberto, ARMUSDiego (Ed.),Cuidar, controlar, curar: ensayos históricos sobre salud y enfermedad en América Latina y el Caribe, Coleção História e Saúde, Río de Janeiro: Editora Fiocruz, 2004; CUETOMarcos, PALMERSteven,Medicine and public health in Latin America: a history, New York: Cambridge university press, 2015; AMADORJosé,Medicine and nation building in the Americas, 1890-1940, Nashville : Vanderbilt university press, 2015.

3CUETOMarcos,El regreso de las epidemias : salud y sociedad en el Perú del siglo XX, Lima : IEP, 1997; CUETOMarcos,Culpa y coraje : historia sobre las políticas sobre el VIH/Sida en el Perú, Lima : Consorcio de Investigación Económica y Social : Universidad Cayetano Heredia, 2001; LOSSIOCHÁVEZJorge Luis, « Nación, ciencia y salud : investigación médica en los Andes y la construcción de una “patología de las alturas” »,Histórica, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Vol. 33, no. 1, 2009, p. 65-86.

4RESTREPOLibia J.,Médicos y comadronas o el arte de los partos. La ginecología y la obstetricia en Antioquia, 1870-1930, Medellín: La Carreta Ed., 2006; MANNARELLIMaría Emma, RIVERACAROBetty Alicia, « Una aproximación histórica a la salud infantil en el Perú: las mujeres en el cuidado de la infancia (1900-1930) »,Investigaciones sociales, Vol. 15, n° 27, dic. 2011, p. 445-455; RODRÍGUEZPablo, « La pediatría en Colombia, 1880-1960. Crónica de una alegría» in RODRÍGUEZPablo, MANNARELLIMaría Emma (coord.),Historia de lainfancia en América Latina, Bogotá: Univ. Externado de Col, 2007, p. 359-388; « Descolonizar el saber médico. Obstetricia y parto en el Perú contemporáneo (siglos XIX y XX) »,Revue d’Etudes décoloniales, n° 1, octubre 2016,

5CUETOMarcos, LOSSIOJorge, PASCOCarol (dir.),El rastro de la salud en el Perú: Nuevas perspectivas históricas.(pp. 211-258). Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos.

6CHIFFOLEAUS.,Genèse de la santé publique internationale. De la peste d’Orient à l’OMS, Presses Universitaires de Rennes/Ifpo, 2012 ;Médecines et Médecins en Égypte. Construction d’une identitéprofessionnelle et projet médical, Paris-Lyon, l’Harmattan/Maison de l’Orient Méditerranéen, 1997.

7SACRISTÁNCristina, « Historiografía de la locura y de la psiquiatría en México. De la hagiografía a la historia posmoderna », inFrenia,vol. V-1, 2005.


  • Maison des sciences de l'homme Alpes, campus, Saint-Martin d'Hères
    Grenoble, France (38)


  • Monday, June 15, 2020


  • santé, Amériques, soin, obstétrique, psychiatrie, santé publique


  • Lissell Quiroz
    courriel : lissell [dot] quiroz [at] cyu [dot] fr
  • Irène Favier
    courriel : irene [dot] favier [at] univ-grenoble-alpes [dot] fr

Information source

  • Irène Favier
    courriel : irene [dot] favier [at] univ-grenoble-alpes [dot] fr


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

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