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Conference 2011

Making (In)Appropriate Bodies – Between Medical Models of Health, Moral Economies and Everyday Practices

When: 1-2 December 2011

Where: Albert Schweitzer Haus, Vienna (map and directions)

Keynote Speakers:

Steven Epstein (Northwestern University, US)
Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna, AT)
Monica Greco (Goldsmiths, UK)
Jörg Niewöhner (Humboldt University, DE)

Organisers: Department of Social Studies of Science, University of Vienna

Registration Fee: 80€ / 40€ reduced

Programme / Poster / Pictures

Call for Papers

Since the turn of the 18th century regulating, controlling and forming bodies has been a central concern both of medicine and state politics. In recent decades techno-scientific innovations, societal developments and new forms of governance have considerably altered the ways in which bodily conditions are measured, normalised and (bio-)medicalised. While some have proclaimed a new politics of life that has supplanted older forms of regulating and controlling bodies and populations, arguably old and new forms of bio-power coexist and intermingle in multiple ways: Both major state-sponsored campaigns aiming at regulating and disciplining bodies on the population scale, e.g. in the proclaimed ‘war against obesity’, and new forms of understanding bodies that foster novel choices, responsibilities and identities, e.g. personalised genetics, are simultaneously coexisting and coalescing.

In this conference, we aim at exploring the multiple ways in which appropriate – and in the same move, inappropriate – bodies are made and enacted within biomedicine, wider biopolitical interventions and everyday practice. Departing from the assumption that the ways in which bodies are known, lived and acted upon are inseparably intertwined, we call for contributions that investigate the interrelations of (biomedical) knowledge, moral economies and socio-material orders on different levels. Particular focus will be put on:

  • the ways in which bodily norms get produced and enacted in diverse biomedical and public health arenas and beyond (e.g. self-help groups, internet forums, …)
  • how these arenas are related to each other, and how bodily norms travel and are translated between them
  • how bodily norms are tied to the formation of identities
  • the kinds of practices and interventions developed to lead to the accomplishment of bodily norms and ideals
  • the forms of resistance which emerge against such normalization and biomedicalisation tendencies
  • the importance of wider political, cultural and national contexts, i.e. specific techno-political cultures or broader socio-technical imaginaries, for the formation of these norms and related practices

This conference will address the above-mentioned issues and seeks to combine in-depth empirical analyses with broader theoretical reflections. By bringing together research that addresses different cultural contexts and different efforts of normalising bodies (such as the obesity debate), and that applies different methodological approaches to studying these, the conference’s explicit goal is to open up comparative perspectives and to contribute to a broader understanding of contemporary efforts to govern bodies.

Deadline for abstract submission: September 12, 2011 (closed).

Notification of acceptance by:
September 20, 2011.

Deadline for extended abstracts (3-5 pages):
November 7, 2011.

A limited number of travel grants for young researchers will be available upon application.


bodies.sciencestudies (at) univie.ac.at
Tel: +43 1 4277-49609 or -49601
Fax: +43 1 4277-9496 

Ulrike Felt
Head of the Department of Social Studies of Science

This conference is organised as part of the „Perceptions and Imaginations of Obesity“ research project.

Universität Wien | Universitätsring 1 | 1010 Wien | T +43-1-4277-0