ESRC Seminar Series


Retheorising Women’s Health: Shifting Paradigms and the Biomedical Body





A series of workshops will run from May 2009 –September 2010

The major aim of this ESRC seminar series is to raise the bar on our awareness of what women’s health is about in the twenty-first century in the context of current intersectional conceptions of race, class, sex/gender and biology, and the emergence of new technologies and new theorisations and understandings of the body.



The seminar series brings together a multidisciplinary ‘think tank’ of leading international academics (including postgraduate students) and biomedical practitioners who will consider, in a workshop format, a set of cross-cutting topics and themes in the context of the health of women. Individual seminars will focus on governance; prosthetic bodies; emergent identities; and non-normative bodies (incl. ageing and disability). This sort of broad thinking - incorporating social theory, medicine, bioscience, and the humanities - is imperative to effectively taking up the challenge of retheorising what is meant by women’s health. As both a practical and theoretical field, women’s health must now be read in the light of new biomedical and bioethical concerns about – to name just a few - advanced reproductive technologies, the replacement of body parts, genetic experimentation and governance, the emergence of new conditions like HIV-AIDS, the biomedical management of ageing and disability, and the use of mind-changing drugs.

The 4 seminars will centre around the following themes:

  1. Seminar 1: Governance (Warwick, 27 May 2009 – 1 day workshop)
  2. Anomalous bodies: disability and ageing (Queens, 9 - 11 Sep 2009 – 2 day workshop)
  3. Worn bodies  (Lancaster, Jan 2010 – 1 day workshop):
  4. Estranged Bodies (Liverpool, Nov 2010 – 2 day workshop)


The challenge is to embrace disciplines as diverse as biology, feminist theory, disability studies, bioethics, biomedical models of conceptualizing disease, and public health practices. The ultimate goal is not simply the betterment of the health of women globally, but to apply the insights and practices to all, regardless of gender.


The seminar series is intended to attract:

  • Academics
  • Students
  • Practitioners
  • Service providers and planners
  • Policy-makers
  • Community-based and campaigning groups
  • Other interested groups and individuals