22 de junio de 2018

CfP: Travel and the Hospital: from pilgrimage to medical tourism, Barcelona, April 2019


Medical tourism is an increasingly popular feature of health care today. Yet it is not always recognised that, throughout their history, hospitals have attracted patients from afar seeking cures, both spiritual and physical, not available at home. While much work has previously focused on the institution as a fixed place, often closely associated with a specific locality, the hospital’s role as a focus for a wider network of health needs and health consumers has been largely overlooked. This neglected topic will be the focus of our twelfth conference.

From its inception the hospital provided care and cure for pilgrims, either en route to, or on their arrival at, shrines, as well as for patients from beyond the urban centre, some from local areas and others travelling great distances to access treatment. These institutions were also distinguished by their architectural and artistic heritage, being decorated with paintings and sculptures, some of which still survive today and depict pilgrims, the poor and the sick. Although many buildings have disappeared or been transformed over time, others remain that reflect their original size and beauty and are important destinations for tourism.

Over the centuries major man-made crises such as war have prompted the introduction of many forms of mobile hospital. Among them were the first ambulances, the medical units that travelled with troops on campaign, and the sophisticated network of treatment stations developed by the combatants of the First World War, including hospital trains with more patients than a London teaching institution. Hospitals have also featured at the heart of migration stories – with staff moving around empires and across borders to acquire medical training and to assist a growing body of patients, whose access to hospital medicine has been limited by poverty, race, lack of citizenship, or the unavailability of specialist services locally. In many parts of the world, and especially in areas with limited healthcare infrastructure or widely dispersed population, hospitals came to the patients, with a variety of mobile institutions being developed to serve the sick in Africa, Russia, Central Europe and across Asia. These many activities reflect the variety of topics that can be included in our theme of Travel and the Hospital.

We seek abstracts of 300 words in ENGLISH [or Spanish or Catalan with and English translation] pertinent to the conference theme. Papers on any historical period, region or country might focus on, but are not restricted to:

Pilgrimage and the hospital
Migration and hospitals – patients and staff
Perceptions of’ diverse staff and patient populations.
Sites for medical testing (remedies or techniques which are imported)
Global connections, including missionary and transnational organisations
War and campaign medicine
Itinerant healing and healers in rural areas.
Mobile hospitals
Centres of excellence, learning and medical education.
Hospitals as historic monuments; their importance to cities both today and in the past.


The conference languages will be English, Catalan and Spanish. We hope to be able to offer some bursaries for doctoral and early career researchers.