The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences is soliciting abstracts for articles to be included in a special issue, “Wounded Healers and the Politics of Wellbeing: Healthcare Practitioners’ Emotions in 20th Century Anglo-America”.
In the last few years, humanities scholars and social scientists studying medicine and healthcare have paid increasing attention to affect theory and the history of emotions. Indeed, emotions and affect are key to many of the fundamental themes in the history of medicine. Historians are attuned to the emotions of suffering patients, they have attended to the role feelings play in the construction of pre-modern clinical stereotypes, and they have addressed the emotional intensity of healthcare activism and the political deployment of public feeling. However, less attention has been paid to the feelings of healthcare practitioners and the efforts on behalf of governments, administrators, managers, and policymakers to manage the emotional landscape of twentieth- century healthcare.
These concerns are timely. Anxieties about the emotional health and ‘wellbeing’ of healthcare professionals have gained increased public attention in both Britain and the United States of America. Professional organizations and health policymakers have placed new emphasis on issues such as stress, burnout, and bullying; and research has demonstrated elevated levels of depression and suicidal ideation amongst doctors and nurses.
This special issue will historicize these issues, explore the changing nature of ‘wellbeing’ as both experience and concept, and use the past to critically appraise current policies and practices. We seek contributions that address meaning, emotions, and technologies of affect management in twentieth-century Anglo-American healthcare. By maintaining an Anglo-American focus, we hope to illustrate the similarities, differences, and interconnected nodes between these two nations. We welcome contributions that address issues such as national politics and practitioners ‘wellbeing’, the emotional landscape of the NHS versus the US insurance-based systems, and the way affect shapes healthcare cultures and environments. Methodologically, contributions will straddle affect theory and the history of emotions, and we seek productive theoretical engagements that attend to these contrasting scholarly traditions. We are interested, too, in work accessible to practitioners and welcome articles that make links between practitioners’ emotions, cognition, and clinical praxis. How might our historical work inform efforts to ameliorate the working lives of the healthcare practitioners we study?
Articles might address:
- The emotional costs of care and healthcare practitioners’ mental(ill) health. The policies and practices, institutions, organizations, and governments have implemented to shape the emotional health of healthcare practitioners.
- Collegiality, communities of feeling, and emotional interactions.
- ‘Wellbeing’ rhetoric and ‘neoliberal’ regimes of health management.
- Social democratic healthcare, labor relations, and industrial action.
- The feelings of non-clinical members of the healthcare workforce such as porters, receptionists, administrators, and laboratory technicians.
- Intersections between class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and emotions.
- Subjectivity and experience in the working lives of healthcare providers.
- ‘Work-life balance’, excessive temporal commitment, and boundaries between leisure and labor.
- Ideas about vocation, professionalism, and ‘labors of love.’
- Affect theory and social science approaches to the history of healthcare.
Authors whose abstracts are selected will be invited to submit an article (c.8,000 words) for consideration for publication in the special issue. Articles selected will be due in late summer 2020 and undergo peer review before publication in 2021. Please send an abstract (no more than 500 words) by February 1, 2020 to Dr. Agnes Arnold-Forster agnes.