Meditsiiniantropoloogia konverents Medica VII
International colloquium "People vs the Natural and the Artificial. Power relations"

9.–10. aprillil 2010 Tartus
Tartu, 09.–10. april 2010


MEDICA VII. International Interdisciplinary Conference "People vs the Natural andthe Artificial. Power relations"
Time: 09-10 April 2010
Place: Tartu, Estonia
Conference venue: Hotel Tartu, Soola 3
The conference working language is English.

NB! Visitors are kindly requested to register by e-mailing the organisers: medica7@folklore.ee
NB! Kohtade arv on piiratud, mistõttu palume kuulajatel meilitsi registreeruda: medica7@folklore.ee
Täpsem informatsioon: Piret Paal, telefon +372-539-29191

Conference schedule (PDF)
Conference abstracts (PDF)

The general aim of our annual meetings has been to analyze public and self-referential representations of health and illness in various contexts and to bring together local and international scholars in order to build up a sustainable network for future discussions and co-work. The 7th conference concentrates on power relations in medical context(s). This time we particularly have papers dealing with power issues and the panel discussions are going to follow these three broad themes:

  • Ethnobotanics
  • Techniques and Technologies
  • Illness Narratives

When they come down with an illness, people use various techniques and practices to cope with the situation. We hope to combine a critical examination of the influence of belief in fate and magic in reflexive analyses of illness images created by selves and others, and focus on the process of healing and being healed. This time the focus of various healing and coping techniques is placed on ethnobotanics: what is its significance in the current sociocultural setting and how people regard its use. Instead of viewing long lists of ethnobotanical remedies we expect to discuss how to use the gained knowledge. This discussion is connected with several ethical issues, concerning ethnobotanical fieldworks and the power of researchers. Who has the right to know and use ethnobotanical remedies: is it the layperson, the society as a whole or should it be limited to researchers, and why so?

Human societies reorganize both their surrounding environment and themselves. Our society is becoming more and more dependent on artificial constructs. There are constantly renewing techniques and technologies developed with the sole purpose of increasing human welfare. New technologies have taken on the manipulation of man’s biological body, genome and consciousness. Technological means as both an idea and practical device have strong implications for political power, individual choice, allocation of resources, fairness, justice, dignity, and the quality of life, all of which will undoubtedly lead to professional and public discourse on human enhancement and policy creation. We are going to consider the ethical and political issues raised by medical technology and human enhancement.

Despite the new advances in medicine, victories in the biomedical field and promises to design people with better qualities, people still fall ill. Illness narratives recounted in (auto)biographical essays, memoirs, belief narratives, etc., express feelings, experiences, and opinions concerning people’s health conditions in different contexts. Representations of health and illness in illness narratives deal often with power issues, such as patient vs physician, individual vs society, etc. The ideas represented in narratives are naturally affected by cultural and social norms. This leads us to contemplate the question how does one’s illness function in terms of power: is it all about being weak and vulnerable, or may falling ill be interpreted also as a tool of empowerment?

Have a look at what was discussed on previous Medica conferences or join the mailing list

Please direct further enquiries to medica7@folklore.ee, Piret Paal, phone +372-539-29191

Visitors are kindly requested to register by e-mailing the organisers.


The conference is organized by the Department of Folkloristics of the Estonian Literary Museum and the Estonian Folklore Institute. Organizing committee: Mare Kõiva, Piret Paal, Renata Sõukand and Kurmo Konsa. The conference is supported by the Estonian Cultural Endowment.

Eesti Kultuurkapital

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