Reflections on a Field Across Time and Space: The Emergent Medical and Health Humanities in South Africa

by Victoria Hume and Megan Wainwright

In this podcast co-authors Victoria Hume and Megan Wainwright introduce themselves and their article. Both have been involved with medical humanities and related fields in the UK and moved to South Africa in 2014 where they became members of what would eventually become the emergent Medical and Health Humanities Network Africa (MHHA) – Victoria from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and Megan from the University of Cape Town. They began assisting with organizing a conference and becoming involved with developing the MHHA. Victoria also set up the MHHA website and conducted interviews with medical humanities scholars and practitioners to understand how academics and practitioners who associated themselves with this emergent field understood the medical and health humanities and their work within it. In this paper the authors contribute a reflection on how the emergence of the medical humanities in South Africa was both similar and different to what they had observed in the UK. Like the UK, there are signs in the emergent field in South Africa of tension over definitions, between practitioner and academic conceptualizations and priorities, and with interdisciplinary publication and the stifling of knowledge hierarchies. Unlike the UK, the medical and health humanities in South Africa is starting from a more immediately critical space and many academics are committed to serious and time-consuming efforts to decolonize and transform knowledge, teaching and practice.

Listen to the authors discuss their article in the clip below:

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities Journal website.

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