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Call for Book Chapters: "An Interdisciplinary Analyses of Medicalized Bodies and Parts"
An interdisciplinary analysis of medicalized bodies and parts involves examining the complex relationship between medicine, society, and the human body through the integration of various academic disciplines and cultural representations. This approach recognizes that medicalization—the process by which conditions, behaviors, or aspects of human life are defined and treated as medical issues—has significant implications for individuals and larger society. By drawing on perspectives from different fields, such as literature, disability studies, philosophy, media studies, gender studies, and medical ethics, this analysis aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the medicalization of bodies and body parts. In the humanities, the concept of medicalized bodies and parts refers to the way in which medicine and medical practices shape our understanding and perception of the human body and its various components. It examines how medical knowledge, technologies, and institutions influence our social, cultural, and historical perspectives on bodies and body parts.
One key aspect of the humanities' understanding of medicalized bodies is the recognition that medicine does not simply offer objective and neutral explanations of the human body. Instead, medical knowledge is socially constructed and influenced by cultural, economic, and political factors. This means that medical practices and theories reflect the values, beliefs, and power dynamics of a given society. Disability studies, for instance, explore how cultural beliefs, norms, and power dynamics influence which bodies and body parts are medicalized. For example, scholars might investigate how certain impairments become stigmatized or pathologized, leading to their medicalization. Further, scholars in the humanities examine how medicalization can lead to the marginalization and stigmatization of disabled individuals. It acknowledges that the medicalization of disability often reinforces ableist ideologies, which devalue disabled bodies and experiences. Medical narratives and practices contribute to societal prejudices and discrimination against disabled people. It also investigates the impact of medicalization on disabled individuals' identities, self-perception, and access to social participation and resources.
Canonical literary works demonstrate the need to reckon with human anatomy that influences the concepts of illness, impairment, and bodily conditions. Virginia Woolf’s essay, “On Being Ill” (1926), demonstrates Woolf’s reckoning with the language of pain caused by a toothache. Her tooth, in this essay, is a representation of all the failures of language to correctly capture the essence of pain sensations. In this mind-body dualism, Woolf proposes a way of thinking about parts of her body that are separate from her mental reality. Other recent work in medical humanities demonstrates the problematic—and sometimes necessary—medicalization of bodies and their parts. Vagina Obscura (2022) by Rachel E. Gross, for example, outlines the social, cultural, and political implications of vaginas, starting in Ancient Greece. Gross outlines how gendered bodily anatomy has been marked as inferior due to a patriarchal medical system. In both texts, specific body parts are analyzed through a cultural and political lens where each organ represents larger questions and issues in feminist theory, philosophy, medical ethics, and linguistics.
This collection will deliberate the medicalization of bodily anatomy and how interdisciplinary work in the humanities handles medical interpretations of the body. Some of the questions that this collection will answer are: How should the medicalization of bodies and body parts involve the process of categorization and classification? How should medical labels, diagnoses, and treatments to different conditions and body parts, influence how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others? For example, the classification of certain physical characteristics as abnormal or pathological can lead to stigmatization and marginalization of individuals who possess those characteristics. How does medicalization also involve the commodification of body parts, especially when certain body parts or bodily functions are seen as valuable resources that can be bought, sold, or exploited? How does this raise ethical
questions and debates, particularly in relation to organ transplantation, genetic testing, and reproductive technologies? How do scholars of the humanities understand what constitutes a “normal” or “ideal” body? Most importantly, how can the humanities provide critical insights into the ways in which medicine and medical practices shape our understanding of bodies and body parts?
Scholars of various humanities fields are welcome to submit to this collection that will interrogate various understandings of the medicalization of the body and its organs. Interdisciplinary papers, essays, and creative pieces are welcome to submit to this edited collection. Papers that examine the social, cultural, and historical dimensions of medicalization, as well as challenge dominant narratives and power dynamics surrounding the human body, are particularly welcome.
Proposals should include the contributor’s/author’s name, a brief biography, and a 500-word abstract. Please send proposals to Maria Rovito (email@example.com).
Proposals due: September 30, 2023
Conditional acceptances: October 20, 2023
Manuscripts due: March 23, 2023
PhD candidate in American Studies