2020 International Health Humanities Consortium:

The Politics of Health

March 26-28, 2020 | Vanderbilt University

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2020 International Health Humanities Consortium:

The Politics of Health

March 26-28, 2020
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN

Conference Chair: Jonathan M. Metzl
Conference Co-Chair: Manisha Mishra
Contact Information: 2020hhc@vanderbilt.edu

The sixth annual Health Humanities Consortium (HHC) conference will explore the politics of health and healthcare in the context of world events and a vital 2020 election year. Health is a desired state – we all want to be healthy.  But health is increasingly a contested political state as well. Debates about who is deserving of health or healthcare intersect with questions, issues, and themes regarding matters such as race, gender, citizenship, identity, and representation that also lie at the core of the health humanities.


Conference Costs: 

  • Full Conference Attendance: $350
  • One Day Attendance (Friday or Saturday): $250
  • Student (Full Conference): $100 *must upload a copy of student ID*

Registration costs include breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages during conference events

A neon colored spary painted American flag on a shooting target

Courtesy of Herb Williams, The Rymer Gallery (Nashville, TN)

Conference Registration


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Accommodation Options


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2020 Conference Schedule


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Thursday Keynote Conversation

How Did We Get Here, and How Do We Move Forward?
March 26th | 4:00pm – 6:00pm

Friday Plenary Session

Keywords for Health Humanities
March 27th | 8:30am – 10:00am

Saturday Plenary Session

Promoting Social Justice in Times of Turmoil
March 28th | 8:30am – 10:00am

Potential topics that might be addressed include (but not limited to):

  • In what ways are health humanities and social sciences “political”? What are the social missions of the humanities and social sciences, and in what ways can they address issues such as health equity, justice, and inclusion?
  • In our contested political age, can the humanities and social sciences promote empathy or understanding of contested points of view
  • How can representations of health in language/literature, film, art, or media uncover deeper understandings of the complex political meanings of health and illness?
  • How does a humanistic or social scientific lens contribute to understandings of issues such as The Affordable Care Act, Medicare for all, Brexit, big data or the rise of identity movements that deny humanity and healthcare to “others”?
  • How can an academic lens be applied to present-day hot-button political topics that have profound health implications – such as guns, racism, women’s reproductive health, genetics/personalized medicine, war, vaccines, ableism, addiction, or climate change?
  • How do health politics differ by country, region or locale?
  • How does focusing on the poetics of politics enable collaboration with disciplines such as public health, political science, sociology, anthropology, or economics?
  • What are the social and political responsibilities of practitioners/teachers/students of the humanities and social sciences in the current era?
  • Which academic methods best examine and analyze the upcoming 2020 election?
  • What desired political futures can we imagine for individual and public health?
  • How does social media enable, enhance, or thwart political participation?

About the Health Humanities Consortium:
The Health Humanities Consortium (HHC) promotes health humanities scholarship, education, and practices through interdisciplinary methods and theories that focus on the intersection of the arts and humanities, health, illness, and healthcare. Our goals are to:

  • Promote understanding of the experiences of patients, caregivers, and communities as they are shaped in relation to models of disease, illness, health, and wellness.
  • Share practices and scholarship through an annual meeting.
  • Educate the public, healthcare professionals, and educators about the history, practice, and study of health humanities.

About Nashville:
Vanderbilt University‘s hometown of Nashville, TN (BNA airport) is a vibrant, engaging city known proudly as Music City, U.S.A. Along with its musical background, Nashville is a part of growing industries such as healthcare, education, hospitality, entertainment, hipsterism, and technology.

Click here for a list of places to visit in Nashville, TN.

Click here for a list of places to eat in Nashville, TN.

Click here for Vanderbilt visitor parking.

Sponsored by the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, Jean & Alexander Heard Libraries, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, The Curb Center, Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science, Center for Latin American Studies, Department of Sociology, American Studies, Dean Bonnie J. Dow, Dean of Academic Initiative, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Stanford Medicine: Medicine & the Muse Center for Biomedical Ethics, Hiram College: Center for Literature and Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, HHIVE, Columbia University Medical Center: Program in Narrative Medicine, Center for Bioethics and Humanities: University of Colorado Center Anschutz Medical Campus, Duke University Health Humanities Lab, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Program for Humanities in Medicine: Yale University School of Medicine, McGovern Center for Humanities & Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), and University of Utah Health.