Friday, April 23, 2010

We look forward to seeing you at the conference today

The Social Health Conference will take place on Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24 2010 at Claudia Cohen Hall on the University of Pennsylvania's campus.

Friday: 3:00-5:00pm on the ground floor in G17 with a Dinner Reception to follow in the Terrace Room (please RSVP if attending)

Saturday: 9:00am-6:30 pm in 402 Cohen, with coffee and continental breakfast and lunch on the third floor lounge (please RSVP if attending)

Claudia Cohen Hall is on 36th Street (a pedestrian street) between Spruce St. and Walnut St.

For an interactive map of Penn’s campus and a photo of Cohen Hall, see the following:

Please note that during the time of our conference, Penn Relays will be happening at the stadium two blocks away. This is a major national track event. It means that traffic will be heavy and parking will be difficult. Buses and taxis will get to Penn but will be a bit slow.

A traffic-free way to get from downtown is by any of the lines of the subway-surface route (with green signs) that stop underground at 15th and Market and also 19th and Market, or 22nd and Market. Be sure to use the westbound entrance when you get on. Get off at 36th Street. Or you could walk. It's pleasant and takes about a half hour from City Hall to Penn (using Walnut Street).
30th Street Station (for Amtrak) is about a 15 minute walk from Cohen Hall. Alternatively, a taxi from 30th Street Station, going west on Market Street to 34th, and then left to Walnut, probably won't meet heavy traffic until near Walnut.

For people coming from the suburbs, the University City regional rail stop is three blocks from Cohen Hall.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Accessing Conference Papers

With just a few short days until the conference, remember that you can access the papers here on the website.


You will need a username and password to access them, as they are password protected. Please email Marissa Mika at if you need the password. Please note that due to various circumstances, we are waiting on a few last submissions, but the bulk of the papers are there.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tentative Conference Agenda

Social Health Conference in Honor of Steven Feierman
With precirculated papers

Friday, 3-5 p.m.
The Global Meets the Vernacular
Chair: Elizabeth Schmidt, Loyola University

"Contemporary Struggles for Control over the Knowledge and Value of Therapeutic Plants in East Africa"
Stacey Langwick
, Cornell University

“A Tale of Two Cities:
Cultural and Social Responses to the Global Spread of Dengue Fever, Singapore and New Delhi”
Randall Packard, Johns Hopkins University

"The Social Reproduction of Health: Local and Global Idioms in Central African Communal Politics"
John Janzen, University of Kansas

“The Global Circulation of Risk Interventions”
Robert Aronowitz, University of Pennsylvania

Saturday, 9-10.30
The Religious and the Therapeutic
Chair: Lee Cassanelli, University of Pennsylvania

“Qur'an Schooling, Healing, and Social Health in Senegal”
Rudolph Ware, University of Michigan

“Creating a State of Public Health: Seasonal Geographies of Collective Healing in Punjab from Late Medieval to Colonial Times”
Lauren Minsky, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and NYU Abu Dhabi

“Health, Welfare, and Politics in Botswana’s Tati Concession:
The Contrasting Recommendations of Isaac Schapera and Kali John Matsheka”
Paul Landau, University of Maryland

Saturday, 11.00-12.30
Tanzanian Afflictions
Chair: Joyce Kirk, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

"The Social Costs of Colonial Production: On Workers’ Health in Tanzanian
Mining Labour Camps, 1930-1940"
Frederick J. Kaijage, University of Dar Es Salaam
To be introduced by Stacey Langwick, Cornell University

“Violence and Affliction in Colonial Zanzibar”
Jonathan Glassman, Northwestern University

Saturday, 2-3.30
Violence, Secrecy, Public Healing
Chair: Edda Fields-Black, Carnegie Mellon University

"Healing + Violence = Sovereignty: Histories of a Hard Equation.”
David Schoenbrun, Northwestern University

"Privatized Public Healing? Women's narratives of escaping violation in Kampala's violent times."
Holly Hanson, Mt. Holyoke College

"A Nervous State: Healing and Dissent in the Wake of Violence in Colonial Congo"
Nancy Rose Hunt, University of Michigan

Saturday, 4-5.30
Producing the Clinic Today
Chair: Cheikh Babou, University of Pennsylvania

"Coalitions of Care in Global Medicine"
Adriana Petryna, University of Pennsylvania

“Invisible Bureaucrats and Heroic Experts in Botswana HIV Drug Therapy Program 2002-2004”
Elise Carpenter, University of Pennsylvania

“The Moral Intimacies of Care”
Julie Livingston, Rutgers University

Saturday, 5.30-6.30
Discussant of the Day
Charles Rosenberg, Harvard University

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Social Health In the New Millenium

We often think of illness as something that happens to a person or within a person. Yet illness (and health) can also be productively understood as something that happens between people. This insight lies at the heart of a remarkably creative field of study – that of social health and healing, which Steven Feierman was instrumental in establishing. Feierman has explored the political, intellectual, and existential aspects of social health, opening fundamental questions about knowledge production, political practice, and the human dimensions of care and affliction. We propose a conference that takes stock of this intellectual legacy and most of all pursues the newest directions in the study of social health both within Africa and globally.

Feierman’s and others’ cross-cultural approach to “social health” opens the history of illness and suffering beyond biomedicine, suggesting that medical histories must always be embedded, at least implicitly, in social and cultural history. In Africa and elsewhere, social health locates health, wealth, and social reproduction as central motivating forces underlying local knowledge and agency from early times through colonial to contemporary times. Many scholars in this field have given the social dimensions of health and healing a privileged analytical position in understanding and studying colonial and postcolonial Africa, India, and other regions. But histories that deploy a notion of “social health” need not relate only to medical, bodily, and healing practice in colonial and postcolonial situations. Rather, the concept can be a fruitful one for those working on myriad forms of human struggle for dignity, decency, recognition, and care in different cultures and places.

Scholarship in social health has positioned the study of biomedicine inside historical, sociological, and anthropological practice while at the same time opening pathways to naturalize an ethnographic approach to illness in the larger work of medical doctors. Most recently this work has culminated in writings that query international models of bio-medicine as an abstract and universal therapeutic system, rather than as a highly situated and thereby politically and economically crafted domain of practice with unpredictable priorities and effects. This field also questions the boundary between the cultures of biomedicine/science and the humanities while it crosses cultural and national divides.

The conference "Social Health in the New Millennium" will bring together scholars from diverse disciplines and from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the U.S. to contemplate key dimensions of social health and their relevance to global health concerns. We tentatively plan to organize the meeting around pre-circulated papers in three panels. One panel will look at the historical and cross-cultural dimensions of the meanings of care. A second panel will focus on how social health helps illuminate the challenges facing health care practices in both resource poor and affluent contexts. A third panel will explore African histories of social health and violence. An open roundtable discussion, conducted at the close of the conference, will raise critical questions and conclusions from these and other papers, stimulate discussion about the organization of published conference proceedings, and point the way to developing new scholarship in this area.

We envision this conference and any resulting publication to be much more than a Festschrift, although Feierman’s remarkable intellectual generosity is certainly worthy of celebration. At the local level, this conference will serve to generate interest in the planned exhibition at the University Museum on 'African Healing Journeys,’ for which Feierman has been a primary consultant. At the national and international level, the concept of social health appears more vital than ever before. We face the rise of “personalized medicine” and the pharmaceuticalization of public health, amid the decline of social networks and social capital that underlie health globally and in the U.S. Across much of Africa the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, crises of reproduction and bodily violence, and the hollowing out of health infrastructure pose deep challenges to productive practices of health and caring that sustain communities as moral, political, and social collectivities. Intellectually, we are experiencing the waning of post-modernism and the cultural turn in humanistic scholarship, the growing influence of Science and Technology Studies with its careful attention to simultaneously situating objects and practice, and a reconfiguration of area studies amid a new emphasis paid to transnational networks of knowledge, goods, and people. The time is right to think through social health and how our commitments to care for one another and to sustain and seek health unfold on the ground, and through historical, intellectual, and techno-scientific practice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pre-Circulated Papers

The pre-circulated paper deadline for the event is March 15, 2010. Please email your papers to mmika [at] sas [dot] upenn [dot] edu. Papers will be available for downloading at this website shortly thereafter.