Call For Papers: Cultures of Harm in Institutions of Care: Historical & Contemporary Perspective

In 1921, Dr Montagu Lomax published a searing indictment of Prestwich Asylum exposing an entrenched sub-culture of malpractice, negligence and abuse. Today, most institutions provide high standards of care. But abuses can still happen.

This two-day conference at Birkbeck on  Friday 15 April – Saturday 16 April 2016 will explore the shifting political, socio-economic, cultural and medical influences that have formed and perpetuated cultures of harm in institution of care from the eighteenth century to the present day, across the world.

We welcome papers from all academic disciplines. Suggested themes include:

§  Institutional contexts that contribute to specific cultures and social relationships between individuals and groups

§  Issues around individual and collective agency, resistance and complicity, as well as coercion, scapegoating, ‘whistleblowing’, bullying and negotiation between individuals

§  The role and use of space such as seclusion, locked wards, single/mixed-sex wards

§  Treatments, medication, the use of restraints, issues around consent

§  Staff recruitment, conditions and training

§  The role of emotions such as fear, pain, shame, humiliation, guilt, anger, sadness, pleasure, desire and nostalgia

§  The role of narrative, language and silence, reporting and non-reporting, including the use of the language of care and therapy to justify violent practices

§  Representations in art, literature, film and drama

§  The role of wider public institutions and agencies such as medicine, the law, social services, academia, religion, government and the media

§  Theoretical, methodological and ethical approaches and challenges.

Whilst this is primarily an academic conference, we would be delighted to receive proposals for artistic work such as a short film, a poetry reading or performance art.

Confirmed speakers: Allan Young, an anthropologist and the Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies in Medicine (McGill) and Richard Bessel, Professor of Twentieth Century History (York).

More details can be found at www.bbk.ac.uk/trauma/events . Please submit an abstract of up to 300 words together with a brief outline of your academic affiliation to trauma@mail.bbk.ac.uk by Sunday 20 September 2015.

This event is organised by the Birkbeck Trauma Project supported by the Birkbeck Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Image Credit: Wellcome Library, London.  The Radcliffe Asylum on Headington Hill, Oxford. Engraving by J. Fisher, 1840. 

 

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