The Institute of English and American Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Debrecen is organizing an online conference in English and Hungarian entitled
Crises of Care: Pandemic Culture, Biopolitics and the Medical Humanities
on the 26th and 27th of June.
How has COVID–19 changed our notions of care – whether it comes to the collective responsibilities of the welfare state or the individual anxieties of the citizen? Why does the ongoing experience of a pandemic challenge earlier ideas of crisis, retrospective analyses of past outbreaks and the future of policymaking? What does self-care mean right here, right now?
The crisis of care has been a widely discussed notion in bioethics and the social sciences since the 1990s as a critique of financialized capitalism and the emerging dilemmas of the helping profession (see the works of Nancy Fraser and Susan S. Phillips, among others). The political and economic dispositions of patriarchal societies have long devalued care as being the private, feminine and unproductive “labour of love”. Today, care is both a political and moral issue, as the growing corpus of care ethics shows.
This dilemma is also part of the current biopolitical discourse on death. Hans-Georg Gadamer points out that the modern era is characterised by a “systematic repression of death”, Norbert Elias similarly argues that “hygienic death” has become the norm, while Benjamin Noys talks about the dominance of unprepared death today. Citizens of first world countries now live and die in increasingly medicalized, normalized, and supposedly caring somatocracies, where they are first and foremost identified as bodies and are expected to master the art of “privatized risk management” (Isabell Lorey) in the face of neoliberal tendencies.
The conference addresses the ways COVID–19 has reframed the notion of care by mapping out the potential interconnections between 21st-century notions of care and medical, social, political, historical, artisitic, and literary representations of and reactions to the pandemic.
The conference will be held online, in the form of presentations streamed live via Webex.
The organizers ask everyone wishing to join as a member of the audience, register by email at firstname.lastname@example.org until the 25th of June.