(In)tangible technology and data
in medical humanities and social sciences

October 17th-18th 2019
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies,
University of Helsinki, Finland


Research on health and illness conducted within medical humanities and social sciences inherently engages both people (such as healthy volunteers, patients, their families, health professionals, geneticists, lab specialists, data managers and policy makers) and their non-human counterparts, in particular, data and technology. Humans, data and technology travel, intermingle and converge. Yet technological applications and analysis of big health data are increasingly defining health and illness, as well as influencing the direction of healthcare policies and services in ways that downplay their fundamental entanglement with mundane, embodied and institutional human activities. Contextualizing and exploring human-data-technology relations allows for a better understanding of healthcare practices.

This symposium aims at facilitating an interdisciplinary discussion and cooperation between scholars in the humanities and social sciences (anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, philosophy, law, psychology, gender studies among others) who examine assemblages of tangible and intangible materialities and health-related issues. We particularly welcome empirically-grounded papers that firstly address issues that pertain to the meaning of, access to, gathering and translation of health-related data in contemporary societies. Secondly, as a growing number of health practices depend on different technologies (such as health apps, feeding tubes, monitoring devices, telecare), we want to examine what happens when the human-technology-data assemblage becomes part of daily life.

We invite contributions that address issues such as:

  • Everyday practices of patients and/or professionals in using and modifying technology and data;
  • Materialities and their interactions – how technology, food, pharmaceuticals and data co-construct health and illness;
  • Care and caring with data and technology;
  • Politics of healthcare data and technology;
  • The impact of and appropriation of data and technology in local and global health.

Keynote speakers:

  • Vincanne Adams, Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine, University of California SF
  • Dr Christine Aicardi, Senior Research Fellow, Human Brain Project Foresight Laboratory, Kings College London
  • Barbara Katz Rothman, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, City University of New York

Please submit your abstract to by April 30th 2019. Decisions on acceptance will be made by May 31st. The abstract should not exceed 250 words. Please add a bio note of max. 100 words including your name, e-mail and affiliation.

There will be a workshop directed to PhD students on 16th October. The call for papers will open in May 2019. The idea for the pre-symposium for doctoral students is to enable them to present and receive feedback from keynote and invited speakers on their research papers, such as work-in-progress manuscripts.

For further information, please contact the organisers of the symposium:

Karoliina Snell

Małgorzata Rajtar or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *