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.

Contact us

The meetings of the reading group took place in the online due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the following dates:

  • 21 January: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 11 February: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 4 March: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 25 March: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 15 April: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 6 May: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 27 May: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 17 June: 10.30-12.00 Online session

The meetings of the reading group took place in the online due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the following dates:

  • 27 August: 11-12.30 Online session
  • 24 September: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 15 October: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 5 November: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 26 November: 10:30-12:00 Online session
  • 17 December: 10:30-12:00 Online session

The meetings of the reading group took place in the Dante Building at Tilburg University on the following dates:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic some of these sessions took place online.

  • 16 January: 11-12.30 in D 313
  • 6 February: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 27 February: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 2 April: 11-12.30 in D313
  • 23 April: 11-12.30 Online session
  • 14 May: 11-12.30 Online session
  • 4 June: 11-12.30 Online session
  • 25 June: 11-12.30 Online session

The meetings of the reading group took place in the Dante Building at Tilburg University on the following dates and in the following lecture rooms:

  • 22 August: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 19 September: 14.00-16.00 in D 313
  • 10 October: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 31 October: 11.00-13.00 in D313
  • 21 November: 11.00-13.00 in D 119
  • 12 December: 11.00-13.00 in D 313

The meetings of the reading group took place in the Dante Building at Tilburg University on the following dates and in the following lecture rooms:

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

Thursday 13 September: 13.00-14.30 D313
Thursday 27 September 15-16.30 D313
Tuesday 16 October 11.15-12.45 D119
Thursday 1 November 11-12.30 D313
Tuesday 27 November 11-12.30 D313
Thursday 13 December 11-12.30 D313

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

  • 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
Texts we have read, so far, include:

    • Chapter 2 from Donna Dickenson’s Property in the body: Feminist Perspectives (2007)
    • Chapter 2 from Donna Dickenson’s ‘Body-shopping’ (2008)
    • Chapter 5 from Frantz Fannon’ ‘Black skin, white masks’ (originally published in 1952, English translation by Charles Lam Markmann)
    • Ataria and Tanaka (2020) When body image takes over the body schema: The case of Frantz Fanon. Human Studies
    • Chapter 1 from Helen Ngo’s ‘The habits of racism. A phenomenology of racism and racialized embodiment’ (2012)
    • Hardon and colleagues (2019) Sexual and reproductive self care among women and girls: Insights from ethnographic studies. BMJ: 1-4
    • Hardon and Idrus (2015) Magic power: changing gender dynamics and sex-enhancement practices among youths in Makassar, Indonecia. Anthropology & Medicine 22(1): 49-63
    • Chadwick (2017) Embodied methodologies: Challenges, reflections and strategies. Qualitative Research 17(1): 54-74
    • Thomas Heerma van Voss’ novel ‘Condities’ (2020)
    • Dolezal (2017) The phenomenology of self-representation: Describing the structures of intercorporeality with Erving Goffman. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16: 237-254.
    • Damian Milton’s paper ‘‘Here comes the trouble’: Autism and gender performance’
    • Chapter 4 from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ‘The visible and the invisible’ (originally published in 1964, translation in 1968)
    • Chapter 4 from Sanneke de Haan’s ‘Enactive psychiatry’
    • Sections from Hanna Arendt’s ‘The human condition’ (second edition 1998)
    • Fuchs and Koch (2014) Embodied affectivity: On moving and being moved. Frontiers in Psychology 5 (article 508): 1-12
    • Sheets-Johnstone (2018) Why kinesthesia, tactility and affectivity matter: Critical and constructive perspectives. Body and Society 24(4): 3-31
    • Aho (2013) Depression and embodiment: Phenomenological reflections on motility, affectivity, and transcendence. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16: 751-759
    • Svenaeus (2013) Depression and the self: Bodily resonance and attuned being-in-the-world. Journal of Consciousness Studies 20(7-8): 15-32
    • Blease, Carel and Geraghty (2016) Epistemic injustice in healthcare encounters: Evidence from chronic fatigue syndrome. Journal of Medical Ethics 43: 549-557
    • Carel and Kidd (2014) Epistemic injustice in healthcare: A philosophical analysis. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 17: 529-540
    • Chapter 2 from Jean-Luc Nancy’s ‘Corpus’ (1992, translated by Richard A. Rand)
    • Chapter 3 from Ian James’ ‘The fragmentary demand: An introduction to the philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy’ (2006)
    • Chapters 1 and 2 from Plessner’s ‘Laughing and crying: A study on the limits of human behavior’ (1940, translated by James Spencer Churchill and Marjorie Grene in 1970)
    • Grene (1966) Positionality in the philosophy of Helmuth Plessner. The Review of Metaphysics 20(2): 250-277.
    • Fausto-Sterling (2019) Gender/Sex, sexual orientation, and identity are in the body: How did they get there? The Journal of Sex Research: 1-27
    • Arinkha (2019) The interoceptive turn.
    • Leder’s chapter ‘Inside insights: A phenomenology of interoception’ in The interoceptive mind: From homeostasis to awareness (2019, edited by Tsakiris and Preester)
    • Weiss’ chapter ‘The ‘normal abnormalities’ of disability and aging. Merleau-Ponty and Beauvoir’ in Feminist phenomenology futures (2017, edited by Fielding and Olkowki)
    • Gilleard and Higgs (2015) Aging, embodiment, and the somatic turn. Age, Culture, Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Journal 2: 17-33
    • Hanna Bervoet’s novel ‘Welkom in het rijk der zieken’ (2019)
    • Susan Sontag’s ‘Illness as Metaphor’ (1977)
    • Chapters 6 and 7 from Skof and Berndtson’s ‘Atmospheres of breathing’ (2016
    • Scheper-Hughes and Lock (1987) The mindful body: A prolegomenon to future work in medical anthropology. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 1(1): 6-41
    • Section from Tomkins’ ‘Affect, imagery, consciousness: The positive affects’ (1962)
    • Jean-Paul Sartre’s ‘The emotions: Outline of a theory’ (1948, translated by Frechtman)
    • Introduction and chapter 5 from Susan Oyama’s ‘The ontogeny of information’
    • Mehling et al. (2009) Body awareness: Construct and self-report measures. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5614
    • Khoury et al. (2017) Embodied mindfulness. Mindfulness 8: 1160-1171
    • Chapter 4 from Elizabeth Grosz’ ‘The incorporeal’
    • Fox (2011) The ill-health assemblage: Beyond the body-with-organs. Health Sociology Review 20(4): 359-371
    • Groven, Råheim and Engelsrud (2013) Dis-appearance and dys-appearance anew: living with excess skin and intestinal changes following weight loss surgery. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16: 507-523.
    • Heyes (2018) Two kinds of awareness: Foucault, the will, and freedom in somatic practice. Human Studies 41: 527-544
    • First and second meditations from Rene Descartes’ (published in 1641)
    • Excerpt from Rene Descartes’ ‘Treatise on Man’ (written in 1630, published in 1664)
    • Pinch (2011) Karen Barad, quantum mechanics, and the paradox of mutual exclusivity. Social Studies of Science 41 (3): 431-441
    • Introduction and chapter 1 from Judith Butler’s ‘Bodies that matter’
    • Selection of chapters (5 and 6) from Drew Leder’s “The Absent Body”
    • Chapter 2 from Richard Shusterman’s “Body Consciousness. A Philosophy of Mindfulness and Somaesthetics”
    • Hubert L. Dreyfus (2002). “Intelligence without representation – Merleau-Ponty’s critique of mental representation”, Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 1, pp 367-383
    • Sections of Maurice Merleau Ponty’s “Phenomenology of Perception”
    • Chapter 2 from Drew Leder’s “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
    • Selection of chapters (2 and 4) from Elizabeth Wilson’s “Gut Feminism”
    • Anne Fausto-Sterling (2005). “The Bare Bones of Sex”, Signs, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp 1491-1527
    • 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”, Man, New Series, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 327-345
    • Selection of chapters (1 and 3) from Sarah Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology
    • Nick Crossley, “Fat is a sociological isse”
    • Chapter 4 from Alva Noë, Out of our Heads
    • Marc Slors, Léon de Bruin, Derek Strijbos, Introduction and Chapter 1 from Philosophy of Mind, Brain and Behavior
    • Introduction from Shaun Gallagher & 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”
    • Lakoff and Johnson (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh, chapters 3 & 25
    • 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: