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Call for Abstracts, Edited Volume: Immobility and Medicine

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Immobility and Medicine: Exploring Stillness, Emptiness and the In-Between
Edited by Cecilia Vindrola-Padros, Bruno Vindrola-Padros and Kyle Lee-Crossett
(University College London)

The social sciences have experienced a ‘mobilities turn’ in the last two decades, which critiqued fixed and sedentary notions of social life and drew attention to the constant flows of people, ideas and objects that permeate our daily lives. This emerging field of thought proposed to study mobilities ‘in their own singularity, centrality and contingent determination‘, creating a new and dynamic lens through which to (re)examine social thought and practice.

Mobility forms were considered as acting in dialectical relationship with the immobile, where flows of people, information or objects might be interrupted, fixed or suspended at specific time points. Recent work has highlighted the importance of thinking about a mobility/immobility continuum, where movement intersects with processes that might entail episodes of transition, waiting, emptiness and fixity. We believe that this focus on stillness, things that are stuck, incomplete or in a state of transition can point to new theoretical, methodological and practical dimensions in social studies of medicine.

Social studies of health, illness and medicine have drawn from the mobilities literature to explore the flows of people, patients, medical technologies, and healthcare workers through concepts such as healthscapes, biotech pilgrimage, and mobilities of wellness. Considerable work has been carried out on mobile technologies in healthcare delivery, mainly in the form of mhealth or virtual care, such as telemedicine. A significant amount of attention has been placed on the study of mobility, but not always in relation to immobility.

In this edited volume, we will bring the concept of immobility to the forefront of social studies of medicine to answer the following questions:

  • How does immobility shape processes of medical care?
  • How is a continuum of mobility/immobility made in the medical context?
  • What are the theoretical and methodological challenges of studying immobility in medical contexts?
  • How can we change the ways in which we conceptualise and study stillness and fixity to address these challenges?

We are seeking chapter contributions that explore different manifestations of immobility in medical contexts. Chapters can explore the following concepts (or additional manifestations of immobility not featured here):

  1. Stillness: physical and imagined restrictions of movement and a sense of ‘stuckedness’ fixity or ‘going nowhere’ (Hage 2009)
  2. In-betweeness: conditions and practices of uncertainty, in-betweeness, never-ending transition, and waiting (Szakolczai 2009)
  3. Motility: the potential for movement, aspirations for movement that are never materialised, movement imaginaries, ideas of incompleteness and never-arriving (Leivestad 2016)
  4. Emptiness: affective dimensions of immobility, for instance, states or emotions that might be unavailable (Deleuze 2004)

The chapters included in the edited volume might cover more than one dimension as these overlap conceptually. We would also encourage authors to propose additional topics to those outlined above. Please submit an abstract (300 words), author names and affiliations by 20th December 2018. Full manuscripts for accepted abstracts will be due in April 2019. Abstracts and queries should be sent to Cecilia Vindrola: c.vindrola@ucl.ac.uk

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