Kategorie: Narratives of Health and Illness: Care and Power Within, Against and Beyond Medicine

“Narratives of Health and Illness: Care and Power Within, Against and Beyond Medicine” aims to bring together the multitude of discussions and expressive models of health and illness in order to explore interdisciplinary encounters and contestations related to agency, discourse, and power structures. The series seeks critical engagements within the framework of medical humanities for a more inclusive conception of health care and well-being that opens up a space for personal accounts of medicalized subjects on the margins of the medical establishment. “Narratives of Health and Illness” emphasizes that embodiedness of health and illness belongs to the realm of narrativity both as personal experience and as part of medical epistemology. We are interested in contributions from different disciplines, including but not limited to literature, anthropology, history, sociology, art history, and medicine to address not only the ways in which modern medicine narrates itself but also how postcolonial, Marxist, feminist, and queer critiques contribute to the repositioning of modern medical discourses. Content-related, we are interested in contributions on the construction of agency, discourse, and power structures, as well as various modalities of perception and stigmatization in the matters of health and illness. The pieces may also critically engage with the concept of narrativity and question underlying assumptions regarding subjectivity and expressions of health and illness at an epistemological level. As pseudoscientific and pseudoskeptical challenges to modern medicine and other antagonistic narratives that position themselves against its scientific underpinnings have become particularly visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would also like to include discussions that transcend such superficial polarizations and unpack their entanglements with politics of race, colonialism, and uneven global circuits of misinformation.

We expect the pieces to be 1000-3000 words. If you are interested in contributing to this series, contact Burcu Alkan at burcualkan@gmail.com. The series is edited by her, Ezgi Sarıtaş, Şima İmşir.

Navigating Bureaucratic Hurdles: Tuberculosis and Healthcare Access in Republican Istanbul

By Zehra Betül Atasoy. Tuberculosis, often referred to as consumption or phthisis, was one of the most dreaded diseases of the 19th and 20th centuries on a global scale. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the period on which this piece focuses, tuberculosis claimed a significant number of lives each year in Turkey. The absence of a structured and centralized TB treatment and prevention system left countless individuals grappling with the disease alone. However, one of the reasons for the lack of access to treatment was the cumbersome bureaucratic processes, exacerbating social class disparities.

The COVID-19 Crisis, New Communities, New Narratives: A Snapshot  from Turkey

By Özlem Şendeniz and Elif E. Akşit. Could the COVID-19 crisis, which we currently perceive as something that belongs to the past, be an opportunity to go beyond anthropocentric thinking? Can narratives about new forms of community that complement our physical existence be constructed with animals and even with the AI via social media? This blog piece is the story of some points extracted from the online survey we conducted with a Turkish-speaking sample at the very beginning of the crisis, and the narratives that emerged around the exploratory survey.

Medicalization, Sensationalization and Self-Expression: Narratives of Intersex and Gender-Affirming Surgeries

By Ezgi Saritaş. In this essay, through the reading of popular medical writing on intersexuality alongside newspapers of the time, literary allusions and transgender self-expression, the author maps how the emerging medical discourse on normative gender and sexuality was reflected and negotiated in various narratives on sex reassignment and gender-affirming surgeries.

The Science around Alcoholism or How to Banish Alcohol from the Turkish Society

By Elife Biçer-Deveci. Historical analysis of scientific debates on alcohol provides insights into power relations, political tensions, and hidden aspects of the nation-building process. In the case of early twentieth-century Turkey, scientists shaped the narrative of drinking as an alien element of the Turkish nation.

The “(Un)forgotten” Pandemic: The 1918 Influenza Virus in Turkish Literary Texts

By Seda Yucekurt. Why was the 1918 Influenza pandemic largely “forgotten”? The conceptualization of the pandemic as a catastrophic event is multifaceted, involving socio-historical and cultural dimensions. The potential answer lies in the observation, that it coincided with the final stages of the First World War, allowing for socio-historical interpretations based on this contextualization. Apart from the overshadowing effect of the First World War, as several resources indicate, the experiences of the 1918 pandemic may have faded from collective memory due to inadequate documentation and reporting. Does this oblivion or silence prevail in Turkish literature?

Empire, Sound, and Disability: Deaf Culture and Education in the Ottoman Empire

By Nazan Maksudyan. This article aims to contribute to Ottoman auditory history through focusing on the cultural history of deafness, also engaging with the history of medicine, history of education, science and technology studies, and disability studies.

Woman, Femininity, Body, & Medicine in Nawal El Saadawi’s novella Memoirs of a Woman Doctor (1960)

By Dalia Said Mostafa. Nawal El Saadawi (1931-2021) was a renowned Egyptian feminist activist, physician, writer, and novelist. But she was also a controversial figure who caused much disturbance to authorities in Egypt. This article focuses on her first short fictional work Memoirs of a Woman Doctor.

Leaving the Mainstream of Modern Medicine and Following Women’s Pathways: The Case of Smallpox Vaccination in the Ottoman Empire

By Nihan Bozok. This essay, which is based on a letter written by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689 – 1762), tells the story of a group of elderly women who collaborated to vaccinate their communities against smallpox in the 17th century in the Ottoman Empire.

The Self-in-Crisis in the Contemporary Turkish Novel: A Case for the Relevance of Medical Humanities

By Burcu Alkan. This article examines the self-in-crisis in the Turkish novel, more specifically the origins and functions of “the psychiatric turn” in representations of madness in contemporary Turkish novels. It examines how the novelists engage with psychiatric medicine and discusses why such an engagement has become prominent in exploring existential crises in the novelistic imagination in recent years.

Narratives of Health and Illness: Care and Power Within, Against, and Beyond Medicine

By Burcu Alkan, Ezgi Sarıtaş, Şima İmşir. The encounters of health and illness begin with narrative. The series “Narratives of Health and Illness: Care and Power Within, Against, and Beyond Medicine” explores diverse perspectives on health and illness by fostering interdisciplinary discussions around the concept of narrative through a critical engagement with the fields of medical and health humanities.

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