POST – DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP in the Medical Humanities at WITS INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH (WiSER) University of the Witwatersrand

Re-considering lung disease in South Africa : the politics of data and materiality in a century of mine silicosis.

In the present, and through our modern history, lung disease has been one of the key sites of politics in modern South Africa. This political importance is reflected in the richness of the science, the archives and the data associated with silicosis in particular. For over a century the distinctive evidence produced by the gold mines made the South African science of silicosis globally authoritative in occupational health and the legal field of industrial compensation. The material evidence produced by the mines — including the Pathaut database which covers deceased ex-miners back to 1953, the statistics on compensation, diagnosis, and the published research papers by the mine doctors and engineers — may be the largest and most systematic body of health information on the planet. It is certainly unique in South Africa as an archive of health surveillance data. The paradox of the richness of this evidence and the ongoing severity of the disease raises several key questions in contemporary debates about the politics of knowledge across several disciplines. These include three major problems, amongst many:

1. Does systematic surveillance produce strong health benefits? If so, how and under what institutional and political circumstances?

2. What is the relationship, over the long term, between the epidemiology of tuberculosis and mine-produced silicosis?

3. What can we learn from a descriptive study of dust measurements, devices, and dust engineering about the causes and remedies of lung disease?

4. How did these dynamics of surveillance, treatment and compensation play out regionally, and across the political and administrative boundaries in southern Africa?

The Medical Humanities project at WISER calls for proposals for a two-year post-doctoral fellowship engaging with these or closely related problems. The appointed candidate would be responsible for assembling a large digital repository of existing archival series, and for the supervision of Masters and Honours students on related projects.

WiSER has over the last ten years established itself as the leading South African interdisciplinary research institute in the Humanities and Social Sciences, promoting local and international debate on the complexities of change in South Africa and Africa, understood from comparative and global perspectives. A strong commitment to doctoral training and supervision is a critical part of WISER’s mission. Funding from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation has enabled us to continue our long-standing doctoral fellowship programme. For more information about our staff and research themes see

This is a full-time programme and is not compatible with other employment. Fellows will work within the Institute, and be expected to work closely with research staff, and to participate fully in the intellectual life of the Institute. Fellows will receive funding for two years; the package for the first year will be R250 000 and include funds for research expenses and a living allowance. Some assistance with conference funding may also be available.

To apply, please submit the following:

1. A detailed covering letter explaining clearly and carefully your interest in this project specifically.
2. A recent publication or piece of written work, drawing on your past research.
3. A detailed and up to date CV, which shows clearly your undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and component courses of study.
4. Names and contact details (including email addresses) of three academic referees.
5. Certified copies of degrees , diplomas and course records.

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Shortlisted candidates will be asked to provide

Applications should be sent by email to Ms. Najibha Deshmukh at

Closing date for applications: 1 August 2017

CFP: Health Education and Migration journal submissions – deadline 1 October 2017

Guest editors:  Felicity Thomas, University of Exeter Medical School, UK, Elaine Chase, UCL Institute of Education, UK and Peter Aggleton, Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney, Australia

Health Education Journal is pleased to announce a call for papers for a special issue of the journal on the topic of Health Education and Migration.

Research on health and migration has tended to focus on the barriers migrants face in accessing healthcare, and the poor health outcomes that often result from this. Within this field, programmes of health education are viewed as important mechanisms for facilitating migrant integration, and for enabling migrants to achieve the health literacy required to access appropriate healthcare and support.

However, migrants are not ‘empty vessels’ to be filled by Western expertise, but have their own beliefs, understandings and values, as well as their own forms of health literacy. Attempts to educate about health without fully recognising the existence of these perspectives will remain limited, and risk reinforcing homogenising and deficits-based frameworks for responding to the health care needs of diverse migrant groups.

Engaging with these concerns, this special issue invites papers that consider a full range of experiences of migrants as they engage with diverse forms of health education. Papers may focus on the experiences of different migrants groups as well as issues, policies and programmes that influence health education and health literacy among migrant populations.  Papers are likely to engage with:

  • Health education needs of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees
  • Health education policies and programmes for migrant groups
  • Conceptualisations of ‘health literacy’ in different cultural contexts
  • The role of the health sector in addressing migrants needs
  • The role of schools, households, communities, transnational actors and networks in promoting health education and health literacy for migrant groups

Instructions for Submissions

The deadline for submission is 1 October 2017. Manuscripts should follow Health Education Journal‘s formatting guidelines, which are available on the journal homepage under Submit Paper  Paper must not exceed 6,000 words in length, including references, figures and tables

If you would like to discuss your paper informally with one of the special issue editors, please contact either Felicity Thomas ( or Elaine Chase ( in advance.

Please submit your paper through our online submission and review site.

Please mark your paper clearly for consideration for inclusion in the Health Education and Migration special issue. All papers submitted will undergo the standard peer review process.

General enquiries about the journal can be emailed to the editor-in-chief, Peter Aggleton ( or the journal administrator, Fiona Thirlwell (

International Medical Humanities Call for Papers

CFP: Medical Humanities in an African Context

Hosted by Chancellor College University of Malawi, 24 & 25 August 2017

Chancellor College is pleased to announce a 2-day international medical humanities conference to be held at the college’s Great Hall in Zomba, on 24th & 25th August 2017. In Europe and North America, medical humanities is understood as an emerging discipline which explores the social, historical and cultural dimensions of medicine. This conference offers a formal space to further our understanding of how illness, wellbeing, medicine & treatment intersect with the arts and humanities and to encourage discussions about what these concepts mean in an African context. It provides a highly interdisciplinary platform for a diversity of perspectives and inquiries into African concepts of health and wellbeing. Malawi’s own scholars–the late Professors Steve Chimombo and Chris Kamlongera–were pioneers in bringing the arts into conversation with health, community and development. We aspire to showcase the vibrant, contemporary medical humanities research within Malawi and throughout the African continent.

We invite 20-minute papers on the following subjects including, but not limited to:

  • The history of medicine and healthcare
  • Medical ethics
  • Medical anthropology
  • Literature, poetry and medicine
  • Visual and performed arts and the body
  • Representations of illness and treatment
  • Communication in health care
  • Religious/spiritual perspectives on health
  • Sociology of medicine
  • The caregiver/patient relationship
  • Healthcare architecture and design
  • Disability studies
  • Medicine and the law
  • Globalisation and healthcare practices

Please send an abstract (approximately 300 words) and short biographical note to the conference organisers by no later than Friday 21 April 2017. Proposals and all enquiries should be addressed to the Proposal Review Committee at

Conference details and updates will be posted to

This conference is hosted by the Department of English, Faculty of Humanities at Chancellor College University of Malawi with funding from the Wellcome Trust and collaborators at University College London and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre of African Studies.