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Experiences of Embodiment and Illness from a Philosophical Perspective

14 December 2016 – Ad Fundum – Tongersestraat 53 – Maastricht

Prior to Marjolein de Boer’s PhD defense at the 14th of December 2016, we will organize a short symposium on Experiences of embodiment and illness from a philosophical perspective, with two renowned international speakers in the field of philosophy of health and medicine.



9.00-9.30         Registration and coffee

9.30-9.45         Introduction by Marjolein de Boer (Maastricht University)

9.45-10.30       Lecture by Ignaas Devisch (Ghent University)                        

                            Sick of Health. Living a healthy life in the age of the worried well

10.30-11.00     Coffee break

11.00-11.45     Lecture by Fredrik Svenaeus (Södertörn University, Stockholm)

                        ‘Anorexia Nervosa and the Body Uncanny: A Phenomenological Approach’

11.45-12.00     Closure by Jenny Slatman (Maastricht University)


Attendance is free, but registration is required. If you would like to attend the symposium, please register by sending an e-mail ultimately Wednesday December 7 to


After the symposium, we will celebrate the PhD defense of Marjolein de Boer on her thesis, titled ‘Extended Bodies. An empirical-philosophical study to women’s bodily experiences in breast cancer’. The defense starts at 14.00 h. in the Aula of Maastricht University, Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht.


Ignaas Devisch

Ignaas Devisch (1970) ignaasis professor in Ethics, Philosophy and Medical Philosophy. He holds a position at Ghent University, department of Primary Care and Family Medicine, and is affiliated with BIG (Bioethics Institute Ghent) and Artevelde University College, Belgium and was researcher for five years at the Radboud University Nijmegen. He publishes in the fields of medical philosophy, philosophy and ethics.


fredrik-svenaeusFredrik Svenaeus

Fredrik Svenaeus is professor at the Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge, Södertörn University, Sweden. His main research areas are philosophy of medicine, bioethics, medical humanities and philosophical anthropology. Current research projects focus on the concept of suffering in bioethics and on psychiatric diagnosis and the concept of medicalization.

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Theorizing the Body in Health and Medicine

26-27 November 2015

For most health and medical professionals “the body” functions as a taken for granted entry point for analyzing, imaging, screening, diagnosing, curing, caring, nursing, training, and feeding people. It is also often considered as different from, and even opposed to, “the psyche” which results in sharp distinctions between somatic and mental illnesses.

This biomedical idea of the body and its alleged mental counterpart has been put into question by both social constructivist oriented theories and phenomenological oriented theories.

Where the first underline that the meaning of the body is intrinsically related to cultural, social and economic context, and to power relations within the health care system, the latter explain in what sense people’s lived body experiences diverge from medical conceptions of soma and psyche.

While these two theoretical approaches are both crucial for reflecting on the meaning of the body in health and medicine, they are often seen as opposing and even mutually exclusive.

The aim of this workshop is to explore the meaning of the body at the intersection of these two approaches.

To this purpose we will discuss topical issues in contemporary health and medicine and examine how social and cultural contexts are decisive for the labeling of bodies in terms of being healthy, sick, disabled or enhanced, while simultaneously taking seriously the individual, material, and experienced body of patients and health the seekers.

There are approximately 5-7 open slots for presentations by researchers in the fields of philosophy, medical anthropology, medical sociology, gender studies or disability studies. We welcome proposals for 30 minutes presentations. We especially encourage the submission of theoretical analyses of topical issues pertaining to the body and embodiment in contemporary health and medicine that address the above sketched tension between the social and the individual.

Suitable topics include (but are not limited to) theoretically reflections on:

  • disability and disfigurement
  • prosthetics, assistive devices, implants
  • somatization, psychosomatics, functional disorders
  • the body in mental health and psychiatry
  • donation and transplantation of organs and body parts
  • regenerative medicine
  • cosmetic surgery, beauty industry
  • aging bodies
  • the pregnant body in a technological age
  • sex reassignment surgery
  • bodies “at risk”: the body in public health
  • exercising, dieting, self-monitoring
  • traveling and translating practices: the body in global health

A 250 word abstract, together with a short biography of the presenter, should be sent to no later than July 15, 2015.

Invited speakers:

Kevin Aho (Florida Gulf Coast University, USA)
Lisa Blackman (Goldsmith College, London, UK)
Stefan van Geelen (Karlstad University, Sweden)
Kristin Zeiler (Linköping University, Sweden)

Selected speakers:

Ben Belek (Cambridge University, UK)
Ana Koncul (Telemark University College, Norway)
Kaisu Koski (artist-researcher, University of Tampere, Finland)
Anna Lavis (University of Brimingham, UK) & Karin Eli (University of Oxford, UK)
Jonathan Paul Mitchell (University College Dublin, Ireland)
Nelly Oudshoorn (University of Twente, NL)
Jaana Parviainen (University of Tampere, Finland)
Ian Tucker (University of East London, UK)
Else Vogel (University of Amsterdam, NL)

To attend the workshop, registration is required.
Registration fees cover coffee, tea, lunch and refreshments. They are 40 euros for two days and 25 euros for one day.
To complete registration please download this form and send it before 31 October to Hellen Heutz: