It’s an exciting time to be involved in medical humanities. With colleagues at Durham’s Centre for Medical Humanities I visted the Centre for Medical Humanities at Leeds University. Jane Macnaughton has written up the visit in her post, ‘Medical Humanities Networking in Leeds‘, and she tells of a number of interesting developments and intiatives that are being formed by univeristies in the UK.
It was one of the first times that I have contributed to an inter-institutional, interdisiplinary discussion, and certainly the first time that I have been asked to contribute to the definition and elaboration of an emerging disipline. I tend to shudder when someone says the word ‘networking’ but this seems necessary and possible in medical humanities, in a way that was different when I was completing my PhD. Working on the subject of waste was a relatively lonely experience. Though geographers and environmentalists made a noise there was no established, collaborative arrangement, with the continuity and funds, to steer the field. I suspect that academic discussions concerning the idea of waste will continue to be circular and fragmented, despite the interesting work being done by people like Max Liboiron and her Discard Studies site. Medical humanities, as a disipline, is a very different kind of animal; terrifically plural but highly organised. It seems able to draw on a number of funding sources and, most exciting of all, there seems a real interest in encouraging the ideas of postgraduates. Thanks to Stuart Murray and Clare Barker for inviting us and organising such an interesting discussion. I hope that the ideas that were put around in this meeting will come to fruition in the next months and years.