CFP: Matters of the Mind: The Materialities of Mental Ill-Health and Distress

Volume edited by Anna Lavis, University of Birmingham and Karin Eli, University of Oxford

From medications to diagnostic manuals, somatic sensations to brain images, the landscape of mental health and illness is replete with diverse materialities. Against the background of a wider ‘material turn’ across the social sciences and humanities, this edited collection will offer the first text on mental ill-health and distress from a materialities perspective.

Cross-disciplinary explorations of personhood and subjectivity have engendered nuanced understandings of lived experiences of mental ill-health and distress. Explorations of these as socio-culturally patterned have been accompanied by an attention to social marginalisation and structural inequalities. This has highlighted the dynamics of stigma and the structural contexts of mental ill-health and suffering. Scholars across the social sciences and humanities have also undertaken theoretical and applied evaluations of diagnostic and treatment processes, and the reach of their global flows. Yet, although these existing cross-disciplinary strands of thought have all acknowledged the roles of material environments, discourses, and substances, to date none has drawn the myriad clinical, symbolic, and mundane (im)materialities of mental health, illness, and distress to the fore of analysis.

The editors of this volume are interested in soliciting chapters that explore how an attention to materialities offers a novel critical lens onto otherwise obscured aspects of mental ill-health and distress, ranging in focus from the intimate and individual, to the cultural and societal.

With a particular emphasis on engaging with lived experiences, we welcome contributions from scholars within anthropology and sociology; medical humanities; critical and cultural theory; critical psychiatry, psychology and public health; history; literary studies; architecture and design; science and technology studies; and geography. Relevant topics may include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Object(ive)s of psychiatry: the materialities of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Global flows of psychiatry’s objects: texts, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic and treatment devices.
  • The materia medica of healing and (self-)care, both clinical and mundane.
  • Somatic and experiential (im)materialities: voice hearing and visions.
  • Bodies and minds: corporeal materialities and embodied subjectivities of distress.
  • Materialities of neuroscience and the ‘new genetics.’
  • Spaces and places of suffering and care: clinics, homes, neighbourhoods.

Interested authors are invited to submit an abstract of approximately 250 words, accompanied by a bio of 100 words, to Anna Lavis (a.c.lavis[at] by May 22nd. If accepted, submissions of no more than 8,000 words each (including abstract, notes, and references) must be submitted by December 2016.

CFP: ‘Corporeal’ (M/C Journal, 15 January 2016)

Stemming from the Body and Being Network’s June 2015 workshop on Materiality and the Body / Embodied Objects, papers are now invited for a peer-reviewed special issue of M/C Journal, to be edited by Body and Being Network co-founders Anna Lavis and Karin Eli.

From reflections on embodiment to the material and affective turns, theoretical approaches to the body are much debated across a range of conceptual and real world contexts. Drawing on and threading across these debates, this issue will focus on corporeality by engaging with the objects that we encounter in day-to-day life. Such objects interact with, make and shape what a body is and does. They illuminate its thresholds and boundaries, possibilities and limits. As such, objects ‘tell’ often-surprising tales about embodied being and offer a prism through which to unsettle familiar discourses on the body. We invite essays that engage with objects to experiment with new ways in which to conceptualize and write corporeality, its potentialities, edges and frailties.

Areas of investigation and focal questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • What is ‘a body’, and where do its boundaries, thresholds or intersections lie?
  • How do the objects we encounter in everyday life shape or create bodies? (Examples may include medical, structural, technological, sexual, artistic, or edible objects, among others.)
  • How might such ’embodied objects’ further reflections on the corporeal and its potentialities or limits?
  • Materiality and corporeality: How are bodies made material and/or immaterial?
  • How might we write or rewrite the body through focussing on a single object with which the body interacts?
  • Cyber-corporeality: how do we define corporeality in a virtual space, or through virtual objects and encounters?
  • Absences and presences: how do objects foreground the body? How do they make the body retreat into the background?

Prospective contributors should email an abstract of 100-250 words and a brief biography to the issue editors. Abstracts should include the article title and should describe your research question, approach, and argument. Biographies should be about three sentences (maximum 75 words) and should include your institutional affiliation and research interests. Articles should be 3000 words (plus bibliography). All articles will be refereed and must adhere to MLA style (6th edition).

UPDATE (10/11/2015): Abstract submission will close on 30 November 2015.

Article deadline: 15 Jan. 2016
Release date: 16 Mar. 2016
Editors: Anna Lavis and Karin Eli
Please send abstracts and any enquiries to