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Biomedicine in museums

The ambiguities and tensions of living and remains

By September 20, 2007No Comments

Medical historians and medical curators will have an excellent opportunity to refill their conceptual apparatuses if they attend the third annual Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 15-17 February 2008. The organisers want the participants to think about the relationships between ‘living’ and ‘remains’:

Each of these terms can be interpreted doubly as a noun or a verb: as that which lives or as the act of living; as what is left over or remains or as the act of remaining. Because each term is ambiguous, together they allow for interdisciplinary discussions on the tensions between living and remaining. For example, how do terminal illness and disease more broadly change the body’s relationship to living, history, activism, theory, space and/or time? The theme invokes a tenuous temporality; while living is a temporary state, to remain seems at least a bit more permanent. We are interested in new ways of thinking about the tensions between living and time: How does life inform what persists? How do imagined remains inform living? How do alternative ways of knowing (such as affect) influence these tropes? How does space structure and become structured by living/lived practices of “remaining”?

Accordingly the conference is titled “Living Remains”, and paper proposals under the following headings are encouraged:

  • Death studies, medical and anthropological discourses on life/death
  • The Trace
  • Temporalities
  • Genealogies, historiographies and/or counter-histories
  • Living in/as the archive
  • Identity and its markers (race, class, gender, sexuality, etc) as historical objects
  • Ontologies of death and dying
  • Terminal illness: diseased/decaying bodies, activism, theory
  • Analyses of various representations of living and/or remains in literature, film, theatre, dance, pop culture, etc.
  • History and new media
  • Disciplined/-ing bodies

It would be great to see a contribution that addresses one or more of these topics form the point of view of medical history and/or medical museology. An extra plus is that David Halperin, University of Michigan, is a keynote speaker. More info here.

Deadline for 250 word abstracts to 15 October.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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