CfP: VariAbilities 2023

Variabilities is a gathering of disability studies scholars and other medicine and health scholars from around the world. An inclusive event, the organizers go to lengths to make sure that all of the participants and attendees are comfortable with the format and location. 

This year's conference has the them of "Bridging the Gap: Bringing the Human Sciences together with the Humanities" and will take place at the Hunterian Collection of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, in collaboration with University of Winchester, 19-21 July 2023, London UK.

This is what the organizers write about this year's theme on "Bridging the Gap." 

How do we understand our bodies? Our own bodies might be the first we experience as children, but how do we use this lived experience to understand the bodies of other people? The bodies of everyday folks we meet on the street, bodies that may range from healthy to diseased, able to disabled, sports fit to couch potato, real to represented, cared for to cared by, and everything you can think of in between—how do we think about people who are like us but also somehow different? What knowledges do such encounters between variAble bodies create? 

Our conference location, the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, has at its heart the anatomy and pathology collections of the eighteenth-century surgeon and anatomist John Hunter. The venue invites us to encounter the full range of humanity that has been and is still the subject of study, and exhibition. But what is this study, this exhibition? 

As John Hunter suggests: “Some Physiologists will have it that the Stomach is a Mill; others, that it is a fermenting Vat; others, again that it is a Stewpan; but in my view of the matter, it is neither a Mill, a Fermenting vat nor a stew-pan, but a STOMACH, Gentlemen, a Stomach.” We all have experience of a stomach, but embedded in Hunter’s statement is metaphor (the object of study of the Humanities) and an apparently directly understandable truth (the object of study of Science). Is there a discussion possible between the way we, as lay people and as surgeons, understand one another?

In this conference we turn explicitly to the experience of specific and variAble bodies and their humanity. The conference itself will give space for papers about individual bodies in their particular histories, approached from whatever methodology seems to be the most appropriate, written in common language that all may share. The histories may be any, from classical antiquity to the contemporary, and the methodology of approach from contextual to theoretical, or whatever combination of these.

Come and tell us what the “body” means to you.

Contact Info: 

Please send your proposal (300-500 words) by 8th January 2023 to Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth.