Call for submissions – “The collaborative turn” – a Somatosphere series

Questions of health, medicine and science have long animated sub-disciplinary attentionsin the social sciences and humanities. Recently, however, research around these topicshas taken a marked collaborative turn. If topics in the medical and health sciences were once straightforward objects of study for anthropological, sociological or philosophical analysis, increasingly, to work ‘on’ such topics often means also to work both ‘with’ and ‘through’ them. While this collaborative turn has been enacted in distinct ways, shaped by national and regional institutional structures and epistemic communities, for many in medical anthropology, the sociology of health and illness, the medical humanities, and science and technology studies, ‘science’ and ‘medicine’ are not simple disciplinary specialities. Instead, they are desired collaborators, allies, and co-producers, for an interdisciplinary research complex that is less invested in institutional or philosophical dividing-lines between the ‘biological,’ ‘social’ and ‘human,’ and much more committed to exploring the ways in which social life, conceptual labour, and biological existence run through one another.

“The collaborative turn” – which will appear as a series of essays on Somatosphere – seeks to open up a critical dialogue on collaboration and interdisciplinarity across medical anthropology, medical sociology, and the medical humanities. It also addresses the emergence of similar issues in allied health sciences – not least in epidemiology, demography, and the other population sciences – where ongoing re-alignments of ‘health’ and ‘the social’ also generate complex (and not always comfortable) spaces of collaboration and hybridity. Finally, we include recent efforts to engage patient and provider publics (and counter-publics), including ‘participatory’ interdisciplinary initiatives framed in terms of co-production, ‘involvement’ and/or ‘emancipation.’ If interdisciplinary collaboration around medical and scientific topics is often taken as a good in itself, questions remain about the bases on which, and purposes for which, collaborations are established.

The series thus asks: what is fundamentally at stake in collaboration around topics in health, medicine and science? What does it mean for scholars in the social sciences in the humanities (and sometimes users and practitioners) to learn to live in such collaborative terrain? And how can such questions open up analysis of a broader collaborative turn, of the ways in which unruly questions in health, medicine and science are understood today, and of how the social sciences and humanities are coming to be entangled in this understanding?

We invite submissions for this series from scholars working in the social sciences and humanities of medicine, health and science as well as from researchers and practitioners in the biosciences and medicine. Please contact us with a short (250-500 word) proposal at admin@somatosphere.net. There is no strict deadline and submissions will be considered as they are received, although we hope for posts in the series to begin appearing in the Fall of 2014.

“The collaborative turn” is collaboratively edited by Des Fitzgerald, Nev Jones, Suparna Choudhury, Michele Friedner, Nadine Levin, Stephanie Lloyd, Todd Meyers, Neely Myers, and Eugene Raikhel.

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