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CFP 21st-Century Science: Health, Agency and Well-Being

  • 2013-01-30
  • 2013-02-01
  • Sydney, Australia
This project is about the conjunction of science, medicine, agency and well-being and the interface between modern, or institutionalised, and natural sciences. In particular this is about approaches that challenges the precepts of the accepted scientific establishment of a particular time and culture. Whilst focused upon current and emerging practices and methodologies it is also about the cultural and historical contexts from which they have previously emerged. This will necessarily reference previous ages, cultures and ideologies that find the roots of today’s anti-establishment medical movements in yester years occult and esoteric knowledge. Such knowledge which saw its birth and development in the natural sciences has become oppositional to the forces of modern empirical knowledge which can be largely seen to ignore anything which cannot be directly measured, categorised or controlled. As Foucault has stated, this form the basis of the medical gaze which restricts and controls as much as it heals and treats. Natural or anti-establishment methodologies then return control of the healing process away from large corporate or nationalised institutions back into the hands of those who require treatment.

In this framework the patient themselves become both agents and communicator of alternative methods of treatment, healing and well-being. As agents of the ‘anti-establishment science movements’, ‘lay’ people become involved into everyday science and knowledge production, they become protoscientists. For example, blog discussion on the side-effects of a particular medicine/drug can be more personal, revealing and informative and can go beyond what an information leaflet or a clinician may offer. While blogging, the ‘lay’ person generates and exchanges knowledge with the other bloggers that may be useful for one’s health. There is a paucity of literature depicting these movements as ‘bottom up’ challenges of establishment science literature. This kind of authority challenge has only marginally been considered by the ‘establishment’ science (for example: Fuller (2010)) and this conference will provide a platform for such consideration and discussion with specific focus on self-healing, health knowledge co-production and DIY treatments. This conference welcomes papers from various fields of study, such as social sciences, humanities, medical sciences and philosophy.

Presentations, papers, performances, work-in-progress and workshops are invited on any issues related to the following themes:

Ideological Approaches:
  • The effect of the DIY practices on established health systems and peoples’ personal lives
  • The embeddedness of protoscience in the everyday life and the philosophical underpinnings of protoscience as everyday science
  • Alternative and self-healing practices beyond the relational milieu vis-à-vis a conventional/non-conventional medicine binary
  • The consequences of the anti-establishment science movements for economic relations determining the health care industry
21st Century Practices Practices:
  • Alternative and Complimentary Medicine
  • Mind-Body Intervention, Meditation, Spiritual and Self-Healing
  • Homeopathy, Energy Medicine, Manipulative Therapy and Holistic Healing
  • Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Psychotherapy, Nutrition and Dietetics
Traditional and Non-Western Approaches:
  • Faith Healing, Johrei, Crystals, Maharishi Vedic Medicine; Shamanism
  • Folk Medicine, Herbalism, Ayurveda
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Korean Medicine, Native American Traditional Healing, Traditional Aboriginal Bush Medicine; rongoā Māori (traditional healing), Traditional medicine in the South Pacific island countries

Historical and Anthropological Approaches to Health and Medicine:

  • Historical-Anthropological accounts of pre-clinical medicine
  • Ancient Health paradigms, Sramana and Classical Indian Philosophy, Gnosticism, Alchemy (Indian, Chinese and Modern), Kabbalah, Hermeticism
  • Medical anthropology, applied medical anthropology
  • Community Health Paradigms and culturally appropriate health provision
  • Diasporic and Minority Health
Literary and Media Representations of CAM and Scientific Medicine:
  • Representations of CAM and Scientific medicine through Media: Medical Infotainment, Reality TV, Medical Soaps
  • Doctors, Alternative healers and patients/health consumers in films and novels
  • Media representations of health vis-à-vis Paganism, Occultism, Witchcraft, Magic
  • Literary representations of health and healing agents: Gothicism, Romanticism and Science Fiction

Contemporary Communities of Health and Well-Being:

  • The empowering effect of the free and open source technology vis-à-vis the status of the individual/the agent as knowledgeable agent in the field of health
  • The effect of the DIY practices on established health systems and peoples’ personal lives
  • Discussion of the relevance of these movements in relation to the existent theories of power
  • The relevance of the historical and socio-political context regarding what constitutes ‘mainstream’ in the health sector
  • E-health and online communities, representations in popular media and self-help and support groups

We actively encourage participation from practitioners and non-academics with an interest in the topic as well as pre-formed three paper panels

What to Send:
300 word abstracts or presentation proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs by Friday 19th October 2012; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract.
E-mails should be entitled: SCIENCE Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs

Irena Veljanova:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the Ethos programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.

Address: Mercure Hotel,
818-820 George Street,
NSW 2000,

For further information check the conference homepage at


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