Reading group

Join us in discussing philosophical, sociological and anthropological texts

Every 3-4 weeks we organize a 2 hours meeting during which we discuss important and actual theoretical literature pertaining to the meaning of embodiment in health and medicine.

We read chapters and papers from different disciplines, including philosophy, sociology, anthropology, gender studies, and disability studies. These meetings are open for all academics (PhD students, (post-doc)researchers) who have an interest in theories on the body.

These meetings take place in the Department of Culture Studies, Tilburg University, Warandelaan 2, Tilburg.

If you would like to join us, or would like to get more information about our upcoming readings and schedule, please contact us.

Most of the upcoming meetings of the reading group take place in the Dante Building at Tilburg University on the following dates and in the following lecture rooms:

  • 16 januari: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 6 februari: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 27 februari: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 2 april: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 23 april: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 14 mei: 11-12.30 in A2 (Academiegebouw)
  • 4 juni: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 25 juni: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 19 september 14-15.30 in D 313
  • 10 oktober 11-12.30 in D 119
  • 31 oktober 11-12.30 in D 119
  • 21 november 11-12.30 in D 313
  • 12 december 11-12.30 in K7
  • 17 January: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 14 February: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 14 March: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 4 April: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 25 April: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 16 May: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 6 June: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 27 June: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 13 September: 13.00-14.30 D313
  • 27 September 15-16.30 D313
  • 16 October 11.15-12.45 D119
  • 1 November 11-12.30 D313
  • 27 November 11-12.30 D313
  • 13 December 11-12.30 D313
  • 1 February: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 22 February: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 8 March: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 29 March: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 12 April: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 26 April: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 17 May: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 7 June: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
  • 28 June: 11.00-13.00 in D 313
Contact us

Texts we have read – so far – include:

  • Susan Sontag Welkom in het rijk der zieken
  • Chapter 6 and 7 from Lenart Skof and Petri Berndtson Atmospheres of Breathing
  • Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margaret M. Lock “The mindful body: A prolegomenon to future work in medical anthropology”
  • Sections from Silvan Tomkins Affect, Imagery, Consciousness: The Positive Affects (1962)
  • Jean-Paul Sartre The Emotions: Outline of a Theory
  • Introduction and chapter 5 from Susan Oyama The Ontogeny of Information (2000)
  • Wolf Mehling et al. “Body awareness: construct and self-report measures”
  • Bassam Khoury et al. “Embodied mindfulness”
  • Chapter 4 from Elizabeth Grosz The Incorporial
  • Nick Fox “The ill-health assemblage: Beyond the body-with-organs”
  • Karen Groven, Malfrid Raheim and Gunn Engelsrud “Dis-appearance and dys-appearance anew: living with excess skin and intestinal changes following weight loss surgery”
  • Karin Zeiler “A phenomenological analysis of bodily self-awareness in the experience of pain and pleasure: on dys-appearance and eu-appearance”
  • Cressida Heyes “Two kinds of awareness: Foucault, the will, and freedom in somatic practice”
  • Sections from Rene Descartes Treatise of Man (written in 1630, published in 1664) and First and Second Mediations (published 1641)
  • Karen Barad “Posthumanist performativity: towards and understanding of how matter comes to matter”
  • Trevor Pinch “Karen Barad, quantum mechanics, and the paradox of mutual exclusivity”
  • Judith Butler Bodies that Matter
  • Chapter 5 and 6 from Drew Leder The Absent Body
  • Chapter 2 from Richard Shusterman Body Consciousness: A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics
  • Hubert L. Dreyfus “Intelligence without representation – Merleau-Ponty’s critique of mental representation”
  • Sections from Maurice Merleau Ponty Phenomenology of Perception
  • Chapter 2 from Drew Leder The Distressed Body
  • Arthur Kleinman and Joan Kleinman, “Somatization: The Interconnections in Chinese Society among Culture, Experiences, and the Meanings of Pain”, in Beyond the Body Proper
  • Chapter 2 and 4 from Elizabeth Wilson Gut Feminism
  • Anne Fausto-Sterling “The Bare Bones of Sex”
  • Ian Hacking “Making up people”
  • Ian Hacking “The looping effect of human Kinds”
  • Ian Hacking “Madness: Biological or Constructed”, in The Social Construction of What?
  • Bernard Williams “The self and the future, from Problems of the Self
  • Selection of chapters from Annemarie Mol, The body multiple
  • Michael Jackson (1983) “Knowledge of the Body”
  • Chapter 1 and 3 from Sarah Ahmed Queer Phenomenology
  • Nick Crossley “Fat is a sociological issue”
  • Chapter 4 from Alva Noë Out of our Heads
  • Introduction and chapter 1 from Marc Slors, Léon de Bruin and Derek Strijbos Philosophy of Mind, Brain and Behavior
  • Introduction from Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi The Phenomenological Mind
  • Nick Crossley “Merleau-Ponty, the elusive body and carnal sociology”
  • Thomas Csordas (1990) “Embodiment as a Paradigm for Anthropology”
  • Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson (2014) “Intense Embodiment: Senses of Heat in Women’s Running and Boxing”
  • Jean Grimshaw “Working out with Merleau-Ponty”
  • Chapters 3 and 25 from Lakoff and Johnson (1999) Philosophy in the Flesh
  • Erwin Straus “The Upright Posture”
  • Iris Young “Throwing like a Girl”
  • Emily Heavey “Narrative Bodies, Embodied Narratives”
  • Havi Carel “Phenomenology and its application in medicine”
  • Megan Warin (2014) “Material Feminism, Obesity Science and the Limits of Discursive Critique”
  • Deborah Lupton “Quantifying the body: Monitoring and measuring health in the age of Health technologies”
  • Selection of chapters Jenny Edkins Face Politics
  • Selection of chapters from Stacy Alaimo, Susan Hekamn Material Feminism
  • Selection of chapters from Rosemary Garland-Thompson Staring
  • Selection of chapters from Luna Dolezal The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped Body
  • Anne Pollock “Heart Feminism”
  • Tim Ingold “When ANT meets SPIDER”
  • Tim Ingold “Footprints through the weather-world”
  • Tim Ingold “Culture on the ground”
  • Lesley Sharp “The invisible woman: The bioaesthetics of engineered bodies”
  • Dawn Goodwin “Reshaping bodies, reshaping agency”
  • Stefan Hirschauer “The manufacture of bodies in surgery”
  • Lucie Dalibert “Living with spinal cord stimulation: Doing embodiment and incorporation”
  • Laura Mamo & Jennifer Ruth Fosket “Scripting the body: Pharmaceuticals and the (re)making of menstruation”
  • Deborah Lynn Steinberg “The bad patient: Estranged subjects of the cancer culture”
  • Kari Nyheim Solbraekke & Hilde Bondevik “Absent organs-present selves”
  • Jackie Leah Scully “Disability and the Thinking Body”
  • Daniel Black “What is a Face?”
  • Bernadette Wegenstein and Nora Ruck “Physiognomy, Reality Television and the Cosmetic Gaze”
  • Selection of chapters from James Aho and Kevin Aho A phenomenology of sickness, disease and illness
  • Max van Manen “Modalities of Body Experience in Illness and Health”
  • Selection of chapters from Lisa Blackman Immaterial Bodies
  • Selection of papers from Margaret Lock & Judith Farquhar (ed). Beyond the body proper
  • Selection of chapters from Sarah Ahmed Queer Phenomenology
  • Selection of chapters from Maurice Merleau-Ponty Phenomenology of Perception
  • Selection of chapters from Don Ihde Technology and the lifeworld
  • Selection of chapters from Chris Shilling The body and social theory
  • Annemarie Mol The Body Multiple
  • Nick Crossley The Social Body: Habit, Identity and Desire
  • Jackie Stacey Teratologies. A Cultural study of Cancer
  • Arthur Frank, The wounded story-teller
  • Nelly Oudshoorn “Sustaining cyborgs”

Previous Events

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: