пятница, 9 ноября 2007 г.



Interdisciplinary Conference "(Re)constructing the aging body: Western medical cultures and gender 1600-2000"


Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz , September 26th-28th, 2008

Organised by:

Prof. Antje Kampf, PhD - Juniorprofessor ( Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz )
Prof. Lynn Botelho, PhD ( Indiana University of Pennsylvania )
Dr. Christiane Streubel ( University of Mnster )

With an ever growing proportion of elderly people in many Western societies and modern medicine promising to prolong life and well-being, the aging body has become an increasingly common image in current society. 'Anti-aging' has become a popular movement for promoting
activity, mobility and life-style choice instead of conventionally held stereotypes of decline and decrepitude. Current theoretical contributions argue that the aging body cannot completely be reduced to culture and stand up for a materialistic deconstructionist perspective considering the elderly's experiences and the interaction of mind, body and society. It is the meaning attached to gendered aging bodies by medical cultures that needs further investigation.

Uncovering the meanings attached to, the knowledge produced of, and the processes inherent to gendered aging bodies in the past and in contemporary Western societies requires an interdisciplinary approach. We thus invite proposals for papers from a variety of disciplines, including but not restricted to history and history of science and medicine, sociology, anthropology, medical ethics and philosophy that are willing to use cross-disciplinary angles and to focus on one of the following three critical and interrelated aspects:

Knowledge production

We need to know more about the process in which knowledge about the aging body has been produced, by whom, and for what reason. Did the elderly lose the ability to define their own bodies? What ethical issues have been involved in this knowledge production? Who held the
dominant definition of aging bodies? Was there a difference to class or ethnicity? What was the impact of gender on the process of rendering aging bodies invisible? Have cultural considerations outlived changes in medical knowledge? Lastly, we still need a thorough analysis on the meanings of sexuality attached to male and female aging bodies.
  • health care professionals, traditional household healers, aging person, churches, agencies, science (geriatrics, gerontology)
  • places of knowledge and ways of knowledge transfer: universities, public press, households
  • specific conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, mental health, cancer, osteoporosis, menopause, andropause

Academics have claimed that anti-aging culture promotes a skewed image of the aging experience, and is predominantly focused on women. Is this a current debate or where similar (uneven) interventions applied in the past? How did the mental approach to old age by traditional medical practitioners, physicians and patients change over time? What kind of negotiation about the treatment procedures were held by health care professionals and elderly persons? We also need to be more specific about class and ethnicity, as well as place as it is connected with cultural meanings: private homes, hospitals, infirmaries, nurse's offices, general practitioners' rooms. Are there other places where medical questions of the elderly were discussed like pubs and coffee houses, churches, support roups or chat rooms? Have body norms and categories impacted on the treatment or preventative measures?
  • therapies, preventions, self-treatment, use of alternative medicines
  • negotiation between patient-doctor
  • settings: places of treatment and prevention
  • aging reversal: Galenic practices, humeral balancing, plastic surgery, hormones, nutrition, dietary regime
  • body concepts in health care systems: private; socialised; universal

What was the experience of health and illness for aging women and men? Was there a difference in biological bodily decline, bodily decline produced by medical cultures, and bodily decline as experienced by women and men? We will discuss if the issue of 'difference' in the aging body can be located similar to the 'diseased body' or 'deviant' body. Was illness or health of gendered aging bodies the same in rural areas or the cities, for upper or lower classes? What did the Galenic model of the body that equated the aged female body with the aged male mean for elderly women? We do know about the medical and cultural constructions of menopause or osteoporosis, though these are not the sole bodily processes women faced. Nor do we have much knowledge on the gendered 'illnesses' and disabilities facing male aging bodies. We articulate the significance of the body for social and cultural manifestations of selfhood, and explore the meaning of embodied selfhood in the context of medical practice.
  • experiences (using parameters of class, race/ethnicity, marital status and companionship, religion, geography)
  • health and illness
  • disability, body in decline
  • identities and embodiment
Keynote speakers:

Stephen Katz ( Trent University ) and Susannah Ottaway ( Carleton College )

Papers are welcomed that apply a longitudinal view over epochs and periods, as well as researching at the microlevel. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal or conference edition. For further details on the conference, please go to

DEADLINE: 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Monday 7th January 2008. When submitting, please add your name, affiliation and postal/email address. Papers should be submitted to Meike Wolf wolfme@uni-mainz.de

Prof. Antje Kampf, PhD (Auckland), M.A. (Cincinnati)

Juniorprofessorin fr Geschichte, Theorie und Ethik der Medizin (gender aspects)
Institut fr Geschichte, Theorie und Ethik der Medizin
Johannes Gutenberg-Universitt Mainz
Am Pulverturm 13
D- 55131 Mainz
Ph: +49 (0)6131-3933401
Fax: +49 (0)6131-3936682
Mail: antje.kampf@uni-mainz.de

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