Theorising contestation of health and wellbeing

Jaana Parviainen (Tampere University) and Ayo Wahlberg (University of Copenhagen) are keynote speakers in the workshop “Theorising contestation of health and wellbeing: State of the art and how to move forward?”, 20-21 January 2022, University of Turku, Finland.

The workshop seeks to bring together scholars from Nordic countries to advance theoretical understanding concerning the contestation of expertise, evidence and authority in health and wellbeing. In recent years, medical knowledge and expertise have been challenged from a number of fronts. Practices such as vaccine hesitancy, diets that challenge nutrition recommendations, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and New Age spiritualities articulate critique and distrust in health authorities. These practices commonly stand in conflicted relationship to biomedical notions of health and wellbeing and challenge traditional hierarchies of knowledge. Debate revolves around what counts as evidence and expertise and how such definitions are recognized and evaluated. Experience-based knowledge is frequently pitted against scientific, particularly biomedical knowledge, and the privileged position of evidence-based medicine is questioned by promoting alternative conceptions of evidence and knowledge production.

The workshop will be devoted to discussing different ways of theorizing these controversies around notions of health and wellbeing. It will address, for example, different understandings of expertise and evidence as well as the political and ethical questions related to them. It will identify the central theoretical frameworks in different disciplines and assess their explanatory power as well as locate questions that have remained under-theorized. It also aims at animating the theoretical imagination of the participants and encourages novel ways of theorizing the phenomenon through interdisciplinary dialogue.

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