Medical anthropology is a practice of continual empirical negotiation. Situated in the cross-disciplinary intellectual flows of anthropology, public health, sociology, development, geography, psychology, politics and philosophy, its investigative tools and means of analysis are often shaped according to methods in other fields and by dynamic transitions in the global health landscapes of infections and disease, as experienced in the current COVID 19 pandemic

The ‘Mobilising Methods’ conference seeks to explore the creative and dynamic tensions that arise in conceptual and methodological terms, from exciting work at the intersections of medical anthropology with public health, primary care, veterinary science and global health to engagement with political economy, systems dynamic modelling, network analysis, the humanities (e.g. history, literature, digital and visual media), political science, psychology, migration, geography, climate change, business studies and the law.

This exciting and topical conference invites reflective contributions and conversations on methods and methodologies between medical anthropologists and with those who work closely with us across a range of institutional and collaborative settings and diverse health conditions. It encourages contributions reporting innovative methodologies and communication strategies.

In what ways do our increasingly diverse sets of collaborators understand and engage with our methods and ethics, and what creative collaborative possibilities might emerge from such engagement? How do novel methods that seek to create bridges between anthropology and other disciplines in diverse political contexts create new entities and new analytical spheres of inquiry?

As the conference call and panels were conceived before the COVID 19 pandemic, we encourage current and prospective panel organisers and paper presenters to consider how events and experiences through the pandemic may have re-shaped thinking on how we ‘do’ medical anthropology. Previously accepted panels and papers will not necessarily warrant revision and may be resubmitted in their original form, but we welcome both revised and new panels that consider emergent approaches and the future of our ethnographic work.

The conference will focus on the challenges and opportunities of contemporary medical anthropology before, through and beyond COVID 19 that require engagement with translation, collaboration and communication. We invite (but do not restrict) medical anthropological contributions to the following important areas:

  • Challenges to the qualitative/quantitative dichotomy as the distinctions blur between qualitative and quantitative forms of inquiry
  • Translation and collaboration across, and within, the biological, medical and social sciences
  • Critical methodological engagements with public health, free market ideologies, techno-science and the privatisation of care
  • Interpretive and critical perspectives on methodological practices in the field of global health
  • Authority and inequity in processes of translation
  • Ethics of investigative and engaged methods
  • Methods, colonial pasts and the decolonising movement
  • Broader issues of politics, power, appropriation and vernacularisation