Medical Humanities and Sport and Exercise Sciences: An invitation to dialogue

November 2, 2023
A hand holding pieces of sea glass

Earlier this year, the Moving Bodies Lab – a core part of the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities – held its first event!

A collaboration with Dr Rebecca Olive who co-convenes the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences for Health (HASH) network, ‘Medical Humanities and Sport and Exercise Sciences: An Invitation to Dialogue’ took place online on 18 September 2023.  

The event encouraged dialogue across the boundaries, points of connection, and opportunities for collaboration between sport and exercise sciences and medical and health humanities. Both fields are characterised by their multi and inter-disciplinary approaches to knowledge and interests across a range of topics, including bodies, movement, health and wellbeing, illness, injury, medical encounters, healing, and more-than-human relations. At the same time, both fields draw on theories that focus on structural inequalities, exclusion, ethics, pedagogies, and power relations.  
With so many points of connection, sport and exercise sciences and health and medical humanities have much to gain from conversation and collaboration. As an early event initiative from the Moving Bodies Lab in collaboration with HASH, this online event provided an opportunity to think with and reflect on examples and provocations from scholars who find themselves ‘brushing up against’ these two disciplines in their work and practice. 
The event included conveners from other medical and health humanities collectives including Dr Arya Thampuran from the Black Health and Humanities Network, Associate Professor Elizabeth Stephensfrom the Australasian Health and Medical Humanities Network, Dr Marjolein de Boer from the Women’s Marginalised Health Network (WoMaHN) and Professor Brett Smith, President of the International Society of Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.  

The talks and panel discussions clustered around six themes, with international speakers from a wide range of disciplines and departments: 

  1. Movement and Medicine 
    Professor Elizabeth Stephens (Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland) and Dr Kristi Tredway (Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, John Hopkins University)
  2. Disability 
    Professor Brett Smith (Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences, Durham University) and Dr Jessica Begon (School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University)
  3. Dancing Bodies 
    Dr Marianne Clark (School of Kinesiology, Acadia University) and Dr Megan Girdwood (Department of English Studies, Durham University) 
  4. Performing Sport 
    Dr Véronique Chance (Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University) and Professor Claire Warden(School of Design and Creative Arts, Loughborough University) 
  5. Bodies in Transition 
    Dr Marjolein De Boer (Department of Culture Studies, Tilberg University) and Professor Cassandra Phoenix (Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences / Institute of Medical Humanities, Durham University)
  6. Nature Based Movement 
    Dr Rebecca Olive (Social & Global Studies Centre, RMIT) and Dr Clare Hickman (School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University) 

Thank you to the wonderful line up of speakers who fully embraced the ethos of risk taking and talking across disciplinary boundaries, which is central to the Moving Bodies Lab, and wider Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.  

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