Medical Humanities in the Nordics” Special Issue Call for Articles


Based in an increasing interest in medical humanities in the Nordic countries, we welcome article proposals for a special issue in the Journal of Medical Humanities with the title "Medical Humanities in the Nordics".

In recent years, we have seen a growing interest in the Medical Humanities in the Nordic countries. Researchers and educators use the label to describe existing academic turfs on the intersections of health, culture, and society, and to bring forth new initiatives to bundle various disciplines engaging with medicine from a theoretical and socio-cultural viewpoint and build collaboration with colleagues in biomedicine. The designation “Medical Humanities” has proven to be useful in communicating to funders, university boards, and across faculties the potential of such interdisciplinary work.

The international body of literature in the Medical Humanities has been invaluable in this process. Approaches and concepts ranging from narrative to entanglement have found their way into the analyses of Nordic academics (Guntram 2021; Wistrand 2022; Skiveren 2022; Ahlsen et al. 2018; Valtonen 2021; Hansson and Irwin 2020), and pedagogical methods and literature have been imported into syllabi for medical students and other adjacent teaching programs (Bernhardsson 2020; Bernhardsson and Hansson 2016). The engagement with the international research community has not been passive: contributions by Nordic scholars have recently had significant impact in the literature (Kristeva et al. 2018; Lie and Greene 2020; Engebretsen, Fraas Henrichsen, and Ødemark 2020). However, as the field matures some fissures between the field of Medical Humanities and the Nordic setting are becoming increasingly clear. Through its origins in the Anglo-American world, many of the basic perspectives, analyses, and concepts of the field are colored by the healthcare systems, health challenges, and social structures that characterize the North American and British healthcare systems and communities. These are for instance racial injustices inscribed by global colonialism and slavery, the harsh economic realities of a largely free-market healthcare system, and significant socio-economic inequalities. 

In the Nordic countries, different versions of a tax-based system for all types of medical care were established around the mid-20th century. Simultaneously, the Nordics became world leaders in equality of income and standard of living, pioneered gender equality policies, and ranked exceptionally well in important health indicators such as low infant mortality and high life expectancy. Hence, one might be led to believe that many of the important issues at the center of current research directed towards intersectional power differentials, hypermedicalization, and the dysergy of poverty, marginalization and poor health are merely less relevant in the Nordics. However, there is no lack of economic, racial, gendered, ableist and other inequalities and discrimination factors in the Nordic welfare states, historically as well as in the present, but their dynamics cannot be understood in-depth with the same tools and types of questions used in the field currently. For example, medicalization and inequalities in health care provision function differently in a publicly funded and operated context than in a medical marketplace. Critical analyses of caretaking and gender would be fundamentally different in a country where free childcare and professional, tax-funded care for the elderly is the norm. Concepts used in studies of racial ideologies and inequalities must be adapted to a demographic structure and history in which the predominantly racialized groups are often read as “White” in an Anglo-American context.

We now welcome article suggestions for a Special Theme Issue of the Journal of Medical Humanities on the topic of Medical Humanities in the Nordics. Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts of 300-500 words for the following article types:

  • Scholarly articles presenting original research in the Medical Humanities from the Nordics and engage with one or more of the themes laid out above;
  • Critical review essays presenting recent scholarship in the Medical Humanities from the Nordics to a wider international audience;
  • educational research articles regarding Medical Humanities education in the Nordics;
  • creative engagements with relevance to the theme.

More information about the article types can be found on the journal homepage.

Abstracts should be submitted to the editors (see contact information below) no later than December 15, 2023. The editors will send invitations for full contributions by January 15, 2024. Deadline for full submissions of manuscripts will be on June 15, 2024.

The full manuscripts will undergo peer review.

For more information and abstract submission, contact the editors: 
Ylva Söderfeldt (Associate professor of History of Science and Ideas, Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities, Uppsala University), Kristofer Hansson (Associate professor of Ethnology, 


Last modified: 2023-08-31