2017-18: Health

What is health and what is disease? What institutions generate or impede health? Who has access to the healthiest environments and what makes those environments healthy? How do communities construct, maintain or discipline health in individual bodies? These are questions that have been central to scholarship in the health humanities as well as other disciplines. Humanities research often underscores the constructed and contested nature of categories surrounding health and how we define and attach value to those categories.  Moving from the scale of the individual biological being outward to the community and the environment as it is shaped in the Anthropocene, health is physical, mental, spiritual, environmental, social and political. Considering health as a social relation of power, for instance, humanities scholars have addressed how the body (politic) is the terrain that maps humanness and well being, and how precarity is woven into social policy and cultural competition. Drawing on scholarship in this area, healthcare institutions and policymakers can benefit from a thorough humanistic questioning of the nature of health itself.

The Institute for Humanities Research invites scholars (both from ASU and visiting scholars) to propose research projects related to health as a theme for the 2017-18 academic year. Because health lends itself to interdisciplinary and cross-cultural analysis, multidisciplinary approaches or groups of collaborators are especially welcome to apply. Fellows’ projects may focus on how value is attached to health, how health is understood, or how it is determined by social relations, structures or institutions, both in the present and throughout human history. Projects may also address the role of health as a concept in biopolitics or other areas of critical theory, or in the areas of medical or health humanities.

Possible research topics might include (but are not limited to):
• the history of health, healthcare, or medicine
• the politics of health or biopolitics
• healthy communities and what makes them
• media representations of health or disease
• health and the arts
• health and the imagination
• health and literature or storymaking
• disciplines of the body and hygiene
• the healthy and sick body
• disability and discourses of health
• health as a metaphor beyond the human
• narrative of health and illness
• cross-cultural analyses of health
• health disparities in the US or globally
• discourses of medicine
• subjective v. objective approaches to health
• health and human rights
• the relationship between health and well-being
• celebrity, the media, and health
• histories of care and carework
• geographies and spaces of health
• health and the environment, both the built and the natural
• health and the politics of race and/or gender
• pathologies and pathologizing discourses
• health, sustainability, and resilience
• questions of risk and precarity in relation to health
• health and cognition