1. William Cullen and the Medical Enlightenment: An International Symposium

    Posted on March 25th, 2013 by admin

    April 5th and 6th 2013 at the RCPE (9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ) 

    Dr William Cullen (1710-1790), chemist, medical theorist, practitioner, lecturer and author was the most influential teacher of medicine of the later eighteenth-century. This international symposium will bring together scholars for a major reassessment of his achievements and his broader significance for our understanding of Enlightenment culture.

    This Symposium, organised by the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow and hosted by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh forms part of our collaborative Cullen Project (cullenproject.ac.uk), supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

    To see the programme and book your place, please see: http://www.cullenproject.ac.uk/news.php  Please register by 28 March (although delegates can of course pay on the day).

  2. PhD Studentship: Mental Healthcare in Twentieth-Century Scotland.

    Posted on March 11th, 2013 by admin

     Glasgow Caledonian University, Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH)

    A fully-funded PhD studentship is available at the CSHHH, a collaboration of health historians at Glasgow Caledonian and Strathclyde Universities.  It is a leading Centre for the study of modern history of health and healthcare, and we have a lively and growing postgraduate community.

    We invite applications from candidates interested in pursuing doctoral research in the history of mental health and healthcare in late nineteenth and/or twentieth-century Scotland; applications with a comparative dimension to another country are welcome, but the project should exploit some of the rich archival resources available locally, such as the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives, the Lothian Health Services Archive and the National Archives of Scotland. In line with the distinctive research focus of health historians at Glasgow Caledonian, the doctoral project would be orientated towards the social, political and/or economic dimensions of mental health and healthcare.

    Enquiries should be directed towards Dr Vicky Long (victoria.long@gcu.ac.uk)

    The studentship is funded by Glasgow Caledonian University, and is worth £15,600 per annum for entry in October 2013. The studentship is offered for 3 years and will provide the following:

    • A maintenance stipend that is set at the annual stipend level of (£13,600) plus an additional £1000 (to cover the costs of work the student will undertake to support the School whilst strengthening their own capabilities)
    • Tuition fees up to a maximum of UK/EU levels (non-EU students must pay the outstanding non-EU tuition fee)
    • Commitment to each student to provide at least £1000 of personal development funding such as conference attendance or training programmes

    Applicant should hold a first or second class honours degree, and  should either hold or be working towards a masters degree in a relevant field (History, History of Medicine, or Medical Humanities). 

    For details on how to apply, and for other funded PhD studentship opportunities at Glasgow Caledonian University, please see:


    Details of this studentship are located under the Society and Social Justice Tab.


    Closing date for receipt of applications: Monday 15 April 2013.

  3. ‘Attentive Writers’: Healthcare, Authorship, and Authority

    Posted on March 11th, 2013 by admin

    Medical Humanities Research Centre, University of Glasgow, 23-25 August 2013

    From nurses, physicians and surgeons to administrators, caregivers, physiotherapists, technicians, veterinarians and voluntary sector workers, this conference adopts the term ‘attentive writers’ as evocative of the multitude of both non-professional and professional caregivers – clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers – whose attention to illness might take narrative form. The study of physician-writers was one of the earliest developments in the related fields of Literature and Medicine and the Medical Humanities, with canonical figures such as Conan Doyle, Goldsmith, Keats, Smollett, and William Carlos Williams, receiving much-deserved critical attention. Echoing Rita Charon’s concept of ’attentiveness’, this conference brings this established field of enquiry regarding ‘the physician as writer’ into dialogue with recent calls for a more inclusive approach to the Medical Humanities (i.e. ‘Health Humanities’) and questions the authoritative place of the Western – traditionally male – physician in our explorations of the humanities/health interface.

    The relationship between healthcare, authorship and authority will be addressed through three inter-related strands  of thematic enquiry: (1) an historical and literary examination of ‘attentive writers’; (2) a more devolved interrogation of the field of Narrative Medicine; and (3) an examination of ‘attentive writing’ as creative practice.

    Current Confirmed Plenary Speakers: Professor Rita Charon; Professor Paul Crawford; Professor G. Thomas Couser, Further TBA

    Papers might address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

    -          Nurse-writers, physician-writers, surgeon-writers, veterinarian-writers, etc. of any culture, historical period or literary epoch, and/or nurses, physicians, surgeons, and vets as literary subjects

    -          Non-clinical healthcare workers (administrators, janitors, receptionists, technicians, etc.) as writers and/or literary subjects

    -          The literature of caregiving

    -          Gender and medical authority

    -          Historical development of medical and literary professionalism

    -          The afterlife of Foucault’s ‘medical gaze’

    -          Hybrid discourses and genres (the case history, illness narratives, etc.)

    -          Narrative Medicine (and particularly does it challenge or reinforce the notion of the physician as sole author/authority) and related developments in professionalism and education

    -          The philosophy of attentiveness in healthcare and creative writing

    -          ‘Attentive writing’ as creative practice; including ‘process oriented’ writing practices and those primarily concerned with the creation of aesthetically valuable outcomes.

    For Creative Writers: We’re particularly looking for papers and readings from creative writers in all genres whose writing is rooted in questions about, experiences of or research into issues of illness, caregiving, and medicine.  We are also interested in how creativity may be impacted by any of these.  We’re particularly interested in discussing how our subjects, genres, research and craft exist in tension and help to produce expansive and important contributions to literature.  For the most part, these contributions should move beyond writing as reflection, to literary writing that complicates and communicates knowledge and experiences of issues currently falling within the frame of medical/health humanities.

    Proposals of up to 500 words for 20-minute papers/readings should be submitted, along with a short biography (no more than 250 words), to arts-attentivewriters@glasgow.ac.uk by 18 March 2013. Proposals from academics, clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers, creative writers, and interested lay persons are all most welcome.

    For further information and updates, see http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/research/conferences/attentivewriters/

  4. William Cullen and the Medical Enlightenment: An International Symposium

    Posted on February 28th, 2013 by admin

    William Cullen and the Medical Enlightenment;

    An International Symposium

    April 5th and 6th 2013 at the RCPE (9 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JQ)


    Dr William Cullen (1710-1790), chemist, medical theorist, practitioner, lecturer and author was the most influential teacher of medicine of the later eighteenth-century. This international symposium will bring together scholars for a major reassessment of his achievements and his broader significance for our understanding of Enlightenment culture.

    This Symposium, organised by the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow and hosted by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh forms part of our collaborative Cullen Project (cullenproject.ac.uk), supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

    To see the programme and book your place, please see: http://www.cullenproject.ac.uk/news.php

  5. MSc and PhD awards in Health History at the CSHHH, Glasgow

    Posted on January 29th, 2013 by admin

    The Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare Glasgow is pleased to invite applications for MSc and PhD awards in modern health history to start in 2013-2014.  The CSHHH is a collaboration of health historians at Glasgow Caledonian andStrathclydeUniversities.  The CSHHH Glasgow is a leading Centre for the study of modern history of health and healthcare. We have a lively and growing postgraduate community of Masters and PhD students and we have an excellent track record of progression from Masters to PhD. We pride ourselves on the interdisciplinary nature of our programmes and welcome applications from students with humanities, social science and non-traditional backgrounds, such as social work, health promotion or nursing. Our MSc Health History has successfully attracted Wellcome Trust and Carnegie Trust funding.  We have also been awarded PhD studentships from the Wellcome Trust, AHRC and ESRC, as well as University awards.

    MSc studentships: the CSHHH is seeking suitable candidates for the following awards

    • Wellcome Trust MSc studentships, which provide fees plus a bursary.  We wish to put forward one or two top candidates to the Wellcome Trust for their studentships to undertake our MSc Health History. 
    • Carnegie-Cameron Awards: These are for Scottish graduates only and only cover tuition fees.  We are seeking suitable candidates for these awards, which can be for full or part-time study.

    PhD Studentships: The CSHHH also invite expressions of interest for the following PhD opportunities. 

    Eligibility: For MSc studentships, candidates must expect to receive at least an upper 2.1 and preferably a first class honours degree in modern history or a related subject.

    PhD candidates should either hold or be working towards a MSc degree in Health History or a related subject such as medical humanities and be expecting to receive a distinction.

    Applications: Preliminary applications should include a CV and letter of interest explaining your research interests.  Successful candidates will then work with a member of staff with expertise in their field towards a full application.  Please send applications (email is acceptable) to:

    MSc studentships: Dr Janet Greenlees, CSHHH, SSMJ,GlasgowCaledonianUniversity,Cowcaddens Road,Glasgow,G4 0BA

    E: Janet.Greenlees@gcu.ac.uk  tel: 0141-331-8209

    PhD studentships: Prof Jim Mills, School of Humanities,McCanceBuilding,StrathclydeUniversity,Glasgow

    E: Jim.Mills@strath.ac.uk   tel: 0141-548-2208

    Further information about the research expertise of members of the CSHHH and the MSc Health History can be found at:  www.gcu.ac.uk/cshhh

    Deadline: Feb 28, 2013.

    Enquiries: Should you have any questions about the awards, your eligibility or the appropriateness of your project, please contact Dr Janet Greenlees (MSc enquiries) or Professor Jim Mills (PhD enquiries).

  6. CFP: Disability and the Global South

    Posted on January 28th, 2013 by admin

    Call for Papers

    Disability and the Global South:

    An International Journal



    Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South?

    Mapping the Ethics, Theory and Practice of Global Mental Health

    Guest Editors: China Mills and Suman Fernando

    Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Movement for Global Mental Health, are calling to ‘scale up’ psychiatric treatments, often specifically access to psychiatric drugs, globally, and particularly within the global South. Amid these calls, others can be heard, from those who have received psychiatric treatments in the global North and South, and from some critical and transcultural psychiatrists, to abolish psychiatric diagnostic systems and to acknowledge the harm caused by some medications. Furthermore, voices have also been raised advocating the need to address social suffering, personal distress and community trauma in the global South in a context of poverty, political violence and natural disasters; and calling for people given psychiatric diagnoses to have their human rights protected by disability legislation. 

    The Movement for Global Mental Health frames distress as an illness like any other, calling for global equality in access to psychiatric medication. However there is a growing body of research from the global North that documents the harmful effects of long-term use of psychiatric medication and questions the usefulness of psychiatric models (see Angell, 2011; and Whitaker, 2010). This raises concerns; about the ‘evidence base’ of Global Mental Health; about increasing access to psychiatric drugs globally; about the promotion of psychiatric diagnoses such as ‘depression’ as an illness; and changes the terms of debate around equality between the global South and North. What are the ethics of ‘scaling up’ treatments within the global South whose efficacy are still hotly debated within the global North?

    There are other concerns about Global Mental Health; that it exports Western ways of being a person and concepts of distress that are alien to many cultures, and imposed from the ‘top down’, potentially repeating colonial and imperial relations (Summerfield, 2008), and that psychiatry discredits and replaces alternative forms of healing that are local, religious or indigenous (Watters, 2010). Alongside this, many users and survivors of the psychiatric system argue for the right to access non-medical and non-Western healing spaces, and to frame their experience as distress and not to depoliticise it as ‘illness’ (PANUSP, 2012). Yet for the pharmaceutical industry – there is a huge financial incentive in both expanding the boundaries of what counts as illness, and expanding across geographical borders into the often ‘untapped’ markets of the global South. This marks a process of psychiatrization, where increasing numbers of people across the globe come to be seen, and to see themselves, as ‘mentally ill’ (Rose, 2006).

    This is the context in which this special issue is situated. We would like to invite contributions that are inter-disciplinary and that ground rich conceptual work in ‘on the ground’ practice. We really welcome papers that try to grapple with the complexity and the messiness of debates around Global Mental Health. We hope to explore a range of issues and address some difficult questions, including (but not exclusively);

    Issues over access to healthcare and the right to treatment in the global South, and how these debates may be different for mental distress compared to physical illness and disability Critical analysis of the evidence base of Global Mental Health and the ‘treatment gap’ in mental health care between the global South and North Global mental health as a disabling practice Examples of mental health activism and lobbying within the global South as well as resistance Dilemmas and accounts of ‘doing’ mental health work in the global South, notably in contexts of poverty The globalisation of psychiatry; accounts of how psychiatry travels, and of whether counter-approaches to mental health (alternative or indigenous frameworks) may travel too Accounts of alternative ways of understanding health, distress and healing – counter-epistemologies and plural approaches from the global South and North.

    Issues around colonialism, imperialism and psychiatry, and of possibilities for decolonising psychiatric practises The role of the pharmaceutical industry and its connections with psychiatry – the global production, distribution and marketing of drugs – how drugs travel globally.

    An exploration of the ethical dimensions of Global Mental Health, and who has the power to set the Global Mental Health agenda.

    Should wellbeing and distress be addressed by health policy and medical funding, or be understood outside of a medical framework?

    What are Global Mental Health interventions claiming to ‘treat’?

    Is there a role for psychiatry within Global Mental Health?

    Critical approaches to the Movement for Global Mental Health; can and should mental health be global?

    We particularly welcome contributions from those who have lived experience of a psychiatric diagnosis, or of distress, and those who work in the global South, or in contents of poverty, on mental health issues. Short reports and stories, are equally encouraged alongside longer theoretical papers. Papers should be no more than 8000 words, with an abstract of 150-200 words.

    Those wishing to submit an article or express an interest in contributing, please email China Mills china.t.mills@gmail.com. Manuscripts will be sent anonymously for peer review, and comments and recommendations relayed to authors through the editors. Instructions on formatting for the journal can be found here: http://dgsjournal.org/information-for-authors/

    All contributions should be submitted no later than: 21st July 2013

  7. What exactly is ‘mental health’ and how globalisable is it?

    Posted on January 28th, 2013 by admin

    Lecture by Dr. Dr Derek Summerfield

    Friday 22nd March 2013

    Room 222, Kelvin Building, University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ,

    2pm – 4pm (No Cost)

    Global Mental Health has developed as an area of study that is concerned with addressing inequities and inequalities in mental health service provision across the world. This lecture will take a critical perspective on Global Mental Health research, and will explore potential risks associated with globalising notions of ‘mental illness’.


    About the Speaker:

    Dr. Derek Summerfield is a Consultant Psychiatrist and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Egyptian Psychiatric Association. During his working career, he has been Principal Psychiatrist with the Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture, London; Research/Teaching Associate for the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford; and consultant to Oxfam on projects in war-affected settings. Derek has been involved with various studies on the effects of war and atrocity, and of displacement and asylum-seeking, in Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Gaza and the UK. He has published around 150 papers and has made other contributions in medical and social sciences literature.

    Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

    Please register for this event online by the 15th March 2013 at the following web-link:


    For any further questions, please contact Dr Ross White (ross.white@glasgow.ac.uk)

  8. MHRNS Public Lecture: Dr. Philip Thomas, ‘Narrative Psychiatry and the Little Red Alfa’

    Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by admin

    The Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland is delighted to announce its second public lecture, ‘Narrative Psychiatry and the Little Red Alpha’, by speaker Dr. Phil Thomas.


    Narrative Psychiatry and the Little Red Alfa

    Psychiatry is having to face up to a big problem. Much of the evidence for the effectiveness of drug treatments indicates that most psychiatric drugs are barely more effective than placebos (dummy tablets). In addition, there are serious doubts about the effectiveness and the safety of the drugs used to treat the most severe form of mental disorders – schizophrenia. In psychotherapy outcome research it has been recognised for at least seventy years that it’s not the specific ingredients of different psychotherapies that are effective, but the qualities of the therapist and the therapeutic relationship. This raises a difficult question: on what grounds  should an ethical, caring and effective form of psychiatric practice rest?

    In this talk I will briefly outline this problem, before describing the main features of what I and others call  narrative psychiatry as a way forward. Narrative psychiatry engages with the diverse contexts and meanings that matter to people who use mental health services. It is also capable of accommodating many divergent models, or ways of understanding madness and distress, including the biomedical model. In particular it foregrounds the ethical and moral aspects of mental health practice, and thus fully recognises both the importance and complexity of self-defined recovery. Most interesting, however, is the way that narrative psychiatry reveals the value of the humanities in psychiatry. This, as well as the other elements of narrative psychiatry, will be illustrated through a short story based in my clinical experience.

    Dr. Phil Thomas:

    Philip Thomas graduated in medicine from Manchester University in 1972, and trained as a psychiatrist in Edinburgh. He worked as a full-time consultant psychiatrist in the NHS for over twenty years, in Manchester, North Wales and Bradford. He has worked closely with survivors of psychiatry, service users and community groups, nationally and internationally. Until recently he was chair of Sharing Voices Bradford, a community development project working with Black and Minority Ethnic communities. In his first consultant post in Manchester he worked closely with the African-Caribbean community in the city, and was part of a team that set up the Manchester African-Caribbean Mental Health Project.

    He has published over 100 scholarly papers mostly in peer reviewed journals, and authored or co-authored three books, most recently Postpsychiatry, with Pat Bracken, published by Oxford University Press in 2005. His early academic work concerned the problems of classification and diagnosis in psychiatry, and this resulted ultimately in his doctoral thesis (The Linguistic Analysis of Psychotic Speech). Since then, his interests in language and communication have taken a narrative and philosophical turn, and  his current academic work places his interests at the intersection of biomedicine and the humanities.

    He left clinical practice in 2004 to devote his time to writing. His main areas of interest are the moral and ethical basis of psychiatric theories and practice, which he now explores in his scholarly and creative writing (creative non-fiction). He is currently working on two books, one on critical and narrative psychiatry, and a collection of semi-fictional short stories based in clinical practice, under the title Madness, Meaning and Culture. Until recently he was professor of philosophy, diversity and mental health in the University of Central Lancashire, and is now an honorary visiting professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities in the University of Bradford.

  9. ‘Understanding feelings: Engaging with unconscious communication and embodied knowledge’

    Posted on January 14th, 2013 by admin

    Liz Bondi, The University of Edinburgh

    Human Geography Research Group Seminar Series


    Friday 18th January, 3:30pm

    East Quad Lecture Theatre


    Drawing on a single research interview, I show how psychoanalytic ideas about unconscious communication can be used to help to make sense of emotional dimensions of research interviews and the narratives they generate. I introduce the idea of the “receptive unconscious”, which I connect to the building of trust and the concept of rapport. I also show how my embodied, affective response (or counter-transference) during and after the interview gave me clues that eventually furthered my understanding of emotional dimensions of the interviewee’s narrative. This analysis contributes to methodological debates about researching emotional geographies and to the discussions of the methodological uses of psychoanalysis in social research. Rather than construing psychoanalytical methodologies as highly specialist and intrinsically different from generic qualitative research practice, it seeks to illustrate their potential in relation to critical forms of reflexivity well-attuned to understanding felt experience.

  10. Final Call for Papers, ‘Infertility in History, Science and Culture’

    Posted on January 9th, 2013 by admin

    This symposium will explore the history of infertility, and the place of infertility in science and culture. Our primary focus is historical, but we welcome contributions from scholars in different disciplines and employing a range of approaches – social scientific, literary, feminist, psychological, and legal. We aim to bring together researchers working on this fascinating and under-explored field in order to better understand historical and contemporary representations and experiences of infertility across different cultures and from different perspectives. Potential topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

    - the role of gender, class and race in shaping experiences and representations of infertility;

    - individual, familial, and social contexts of infertility;

    - infertility as a bodily and/or psychological experience;

    - heterosexuality, homosexuality, and involuntary childlessness;

    - reproductive science and access to reproductive technologies;

    - the interplay of medical, scientific, and cultural understandings of infertility;

    - the role of politics, law, and religion in shaping experiences of and attitudes towards infertility;

    - the relation of perceptions of infertility to beliefs about fertility control, the constitution and social role of the family, and sexuality.


    Speakers include Sarah Toulalan, Simon Szreter, Duncan Wilson, Martin Richards, Margaret Marsh and Naomi Pfeffer.

    An edited collection based on the presented papers is planned.


    The symposium is co-convened by Gayle Davis (University of Edinburgh) and Tracey Loughran (Cardiff University). It will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 4-5 July 2013. Abstracts of 250 words, for papers of 20-30 minutes, should be sent to LoughranTL@cardiff.ac.uk by 25th January 2013.

    A number of bursaries have been made available for postgraduate students, thanks to the Society for the Social History of Medicine. 

    For further details, email Gayle.Davis@ed.ac.uk. We hope to keep costs very low for other participants, thanks to funding from the Universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh and SSHM.