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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: News


Call for Papers - 'Valuing Health' EdCMA Biennial Conference

Organised by Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology & Royal Anthropological Institute

We invite you to submit abstracts for papers for the conference

Valuing Health (Edinburgh, 4-5 September 2018)

Biennial Conference of the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology 

Deadline for paper abstracts: 28 February 2018

Staying healthy and recovering from sickness comes at a price. Staying ill means losing time, losing money, losing productivity. Seeing doctors, buying drugs, investing in future health, all cost money. People's willingness to pay can be elicited, benefits need to be maximized while costs need to be minimized. Return of investments in health are measured for individuals and whole populations. Disability-adjusted life years, efficiency savings, the marginal utility of life are all calculated with as much accuracy as possible. Good health is taken as an incalculable value, while the means to achieve it are presented as calculable values. Mathematics, statistics, and economic formulas set the terms for how international, national institutions and private corporations are approaching the health of human beings, of nonhuman beings, and of the environment. Medical anthropologists have long been aware of how health is approached economically and metrically, without usually looking at the details of how numbers are collected and put to use. Many engagements stop at invoking neoliberalism or late capitalism. At the same time, anthropology's toolkit exceeds a narrow focus on economics and can open up rich discussions on value beyond money. The Edinburgh Medical Anthropology Centre's biennial conference will assemble new anthropological research how health is valued today. We invite scholars working on the health of humans, of animals, and of habitats are invited to rethink what it means to make value measurable in economic terms. Who is producing numbers, and to what end? What evidence counts, which evidence does not count? What forms of knowledge, belief, or perhaps strategic ignorance, are revealed and hidden by the values put on health? Does the value of health change when kinship and social relations, ritual and religion, affect and emotions, belonging and exclusion, are made to count?

Themes & questions:

Valuing health and sickness: who, where, how?

Unhealthy markets, markets of health

Valuing kinship and wellbeing

The worth of a person

Valuing labour and work values

Relations between local values and global value

Negotiating value in cross-disciplinary collaborations

How metrics, data, evidence transform value

Keynote speakers (confirmed):

Anita Hardon, University of Amsterdam

Julie Livingston, New York University


Two full days of individual papers, keynotes, and roundtable discussions.

Abstract submission and selection:

Send your abstracts (250-300 words) to by 28 February 2018. Proposed papers will be selected by the end of March 2018.

Conference Fee (includes lunches & tea/coffee):

Full/professional: GBP 75, Reduced/student: GBP 55

Conference committee:

Stefan Ecks, Maya Unnithan, Karina Kielmann, Alice Street, Lilian Kennedy, Michaela McCaffrey (secretary)