We are putting together a panel on work and health for the annual meeting of the International Society for Cultural History that will take place in July 2-5, 2012 in Lunéville, France.
Work and Health
Disease, Disability and Discomfort in labour environments
Not only since the tragic accident in Fukushima has the media focused on issues concerning health and work. Throughout the centuries, particular forms of labour have caused specific diseases. Thus toxic fumes, the exposure to constant extreme temperatures and the continuous handling of rough or heavy material has led to a variety of work related diseases. Tanners were very vulnerable to anthrax, children employed in mines suffered serious deformations of the bones, and those working in the field of medicine often caught diseases like tuberculosis from their patients. With the introduction of industrial production and technology, workers repeatedly got injured while handling a machine or frequently lost limbs.
While especially those working in the low paid sector have been and still are confronted with threats to their health, their medical care has been disproportionally low quality as well – and yet many professionals depended on their physical well-being. In the Americas doctors specialized in treating slaves ensuring maximum labour force at the lowest costs (Washington 2006: 24-38). At the same time Darwinist approaches separated the worker from the human race attributing physical and mental resistance to those under particular difficult conditions. Apart from physical health, the mental condition was and is also linked to work and concepts of well-being. What psychological effects did child labour have on children? Can lack of sleep (and conditions suffered as resulting from it) be connected to work? Is safety the same as health?
This panel seeks to explore the history of work and health in its various discourses. We encourage an interdisciplinary exchange between scholars with backgrounds in Medicine, Disability Studies, History, the Arts, Theater and Performance Studies and the like. Presentation may address:
- the history of work related diseases
- the dependency of the medical system on labour (slave-doctors, medical improvement, experiments etc.)
- how industrialization and technology affected the health of the workers
- work related disabilities and their treatment
- health/illness as a precondition of employment throughout history
- the changing definitions of well-being in a working environment
- the (healthy) body as capital
- the representation of labour’s obstacles in fiction, theater, film and other media
- technology, machines, cyperbodies within discourses of safety and human failure
Please send a short proposal (max. 300 words) and a brief CV to both panel organizers by December 15. Mauricio Sánchez Menchero (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Andrea Zittlau (email@example.com).
Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik
+ 49 (0)381 4982591 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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