Making Sense of Pain
Thursday 9th May – Saturday 11th May 2013 Prague, Czech Republic
What is pain? What is the meaning of pain? How can we attempt to make
sense of it—and should we?
Pain is a complex multi-layered, multi-leveled phenomenon. Standard definitions of pain view it primarily in physical terms as being a life-preserving response to negative stimuli in sentient beings. It is something that happens to and/or in parts of the body. It is described in terms of physical qualities, as an object to be observed, assessed, analysed, managed, overcome and/or eliminated.
At the same time, pain is something we experience, endure, live through and, at times, die from. It is something which intrudes into our sense of who we are, our sense of embodiment, our desires and our fears. It becomes the basis of stories, narratives, reports and observations we tell to others. The telling is addressed and attuned to the context of the other – the clinical, the professional, the social.
Pain also sits as a nexus at the centre of innumerable intersecting relationships. In cultures for whom self-inflicted pain is a means of experiencing vitality, pain, body and self are critically linked. This
principle recognizably appears in aspects of ritual, of consumption, of sexuality, of psychological pain, of dissociation and body dismorphia. In so many ways, in sickness and in health, pain is the means by which we navigate the vulnerable, permeable boundary between ourselves and others—the inside and outside of our bodies and minds.
What tools can we bring when grappling with and trying to make sense of, pain? This inter- and transdisciplinary conference provides a forum for inquiry into the vicissitudes of pain: its nature and significance biologically, anthropologically, historically, culturally and socially. More specifically, as a means of probing the boundaries, this conference aims to create a dialogue between disparate as well as overlapping fields of study: the boundaries of disciplines as well as the boundaries of sensation—our suffering, our pleasure, ourselves.
We particularly welcome the perspectives of medical anthropologists, medical humanists, medical historians, professionals, physicians, care-givers, patients, and those exploring the boundaries between
creative arts and healing, narrative and medicine.
The following themes are suggested as guides to the formulation of topics for presentations, papers and workshops:
Pain of the physical body
Pain and the animal body—sentience and the experiences of pain in animals
Pain and ability/disability—chronicity; disability. Associated
perspectives – social policy, architecture, law
Pain of the psychological and psychosocial self
Pain as action/reaction—pain as a weapon. Torture, sadism, self-harm,
neglect, abuse and disregard
Pain in/as dissociation
Pain as a pleasure principle
Pain and sexuality studies—sexual identity, transgender and LGBTA, as well as sexual practices
Pain as Communication – expressing pain, understanding pain, describing pain, pain as metaphor, silences about pain
Representations and expressions of pain—in art, music, cinema, theatre
Illness Narratives/Perspectives on pain – patients’ and professionals’
The nexus of pain—creative and destructive relationships: suffering and affliction; anguish, torment; illness and disease
Practices, philosophies and dilemmas of overcoming pain– should it be overcome?
Personal, professional, cultural, economic and political (macro and micro) perspectives
The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will also be considered on any related theme.
What to Send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 4th January 2013. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 8th March 2013. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: PAIN4 Abstract Submission.
Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.
Brandy Schillace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Fisher: email@example.com
The conference is part of the Making Sense Of: Hub series of ongoing research and publications projects conferences, run within the Probing the Boundaries domain which aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore innovative and challenging routes of intellectual and academic exploration.
All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume.