In the wake of the international conference “Exploring the Contours of Wellness and Health”, held at Sorbonne University on the 23st, 24th and 25th of March 2023, the HDEA research team invites article submissions on the conference theme for an edited volume on the history and representation(s) of wellness and/or health.
The aim of the publication will be to study the general question of wellness and health, primarily in English-speaking countries, but it also welcomes comparative approaches in other countries or regions. The articles will attempt to shed light on the practices, principles, values, or institutions which have had an impact on wellness and health, both from a strictly medical point of view and from a broader social perspective. The WHO defines health not only as the absence of disease, but as a “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”. Yet this seemingly simple definition hides a wide range of different interpretations, as health can be understood in varying ways: individual but also collective, private, and public; related to political, social, economic, and cultural factors that have themselves constantly evolved. To try and map the contours of health, it is therefore necessary to study how individuals engage with their own health, but also the society to which they belong and the environment in which they live. As for wellness, it can be understood as “a set of practices, choices and lifestyles” leading to the achievement of personal satisfaction (Global Wellness Institute).
While the two notions of wellness and health are thus very closely linked, they should not necessarily be taken as interchangeable or equivalent. Health is indeed seen only as one condition among others of wellness, just as it can be totally dissociated from it. The study of the tensions, interactions, boundaries between wellness and health is thus a particularly fertile and stimulating question to explore, but it will also be possible to separate these two notions and to focus on only one or the other.
The broad objective of the publication will be to trace the contours of wellness and health from a historical point of view, be they artistic, sociological, political, or economic.
The publication aims at adopting as broad a perspective as possible, and the following is a non-exhaustive list of possible themes that papers might explore:
• Health policies and their evolution (the Welfare State, the National Health Service (NHS), Obamacare v “Medicare for all” in the US)
• Health and wellness in times of conflict (war medicine, the health of civilians, reflections on wellness in armies)
• Interdependence of human health, animal health, and ecosystems (see for example the recent “One Health” movement, and its histories)
• The production, development, and delineation of urban or natural spaces in relation to wellness and health (parks, sanitation policies, urban planning, and climate change); health and the environment
• Health, wellness, and sport
• The development of leisure, changes in consumption patterns, in relation to individual and collective well-being (rise of “wellness centers” and of the wellness industry)
• Wellness and spirituality: “New Age”-type counter-cultural movements
• Health, wellness, and religious practices
• Health, wellness, and social justice
• The pursuit of wellness as a gendered issue
• Health and family and/or birth policies, debates on abortion and sexuality
• Health and social and political struggles, health and freedom; social, racial and sexual discrimination; reproductive rights
• Health, exclusion, resilience, resistance, and cultural and identity issues
• Moral health and mental health
• Health, wellness, and screens (television, cinema): past representations of health and wellness on screen
Please send your abstracts (500-600 words), along with a brief resume, to
by January 15, 2024
All abstracts will be reviewed and authors contacted by February 15, 2024.
Upon acceptance, a full manuscript submission will be due