CFP: Healthscapes: environmental and health pathways across the Middle East and North Africa Workshop - University of Exeter - 26-27 July 2023

Deniz Karakas Discussion

Discussion published by Semih Celik on H-Turk

Healthscapes: environmental and health pathways across the Middle East and North Africa

26-27 July 2023

Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies & Department of Archaeology and History

University of Exeter


Now we must make do with comfort and hardship

for in nature the bee is nectar and sting.

Sa‘adi, 13th century

کنون بسختی و آسانیش بباید ساخت

که در طبیعت زنبور نوش باشد و


We are living through disrupted times. Environmental crisis at the global level is intensifying crises of health and well-being under capitalism. Against this backdrop, where the horizon of possibility seems to leave little space for visions escaping catastrophic outcomes, social sciences and humanities scholars have begun to develop the conceptual tools and methods to tackle what are increasingly recognised as interconnected crises. Social sciences and humanities scholars can and must sustain the imagination and bring out the sources upon which to rethink and transform the entangled crises of our era.

This workshop aims to nurture a dialogue between those who work on the environmental and medical humanities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In so doing, it hopes to illuminate alternative histories and phenomenologies of disaster, disease, medicine, healing, and recovery as part of (dis)assemblages between the environment and health in the region, and to offer new paradigms for understanding their interrelationship in a multiplicity of political, cultural, and historical trajectories. While insisting that thinking through the relationship between health and environment from the site of the MENA region has much to offer in understanding and responding to global and planetary crises, the workshop also seeks to identify what is specific to the region, and to acknowledge rather than flatten out the complexities of how health, environment, and recovery have interrelated. Among others, the workshop seeks to explore the following questions:

  • How has the relationship between health and environment been conceptualized across the MENA? What theoretical and practical implications can be gained by attending to this history? 
  • How have concepts of ecological and health vulnerabilityresilience, and recovery echoed differently in imperial, postimperial, colonial, post- and neo-colonial settings in the MENA?
  • How can we understand the role of more-than-human actors in disaster, disease and recovery in the MENA?

We welcome papers, including work-in-progress, by scholars across the humanities and social sciences as well as performative and other works from artists who are interested in past and present relationships between health and environment in the MENA region. We particularly welcome submissions by early career scholars, including doctoral candidates. We encourage interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary discussions and intellectual experimentations. If you have an interdisciplinary panel that you would like to be considered for inclusion in the workshop, please get in touch with the organisers directly by email.

Topics could include but are not limited to the following:

  • Conceptual intersections of medicine, environment, and health
  • Resistance to hegemonic forms of environing and perceptions of health 
  • Knowledge regimes (indigenous, nomadic, decentred...) of environmental and medical healing
  • Conceptualizations of space, health, and recovery – “Solastalgia”
  • Perceptions and experiences of wilderness in relation to health and recovery
  • Alternative forms of agriculture and food production, and plant and animal health and disease
  • Natural resources, extractivism, and health and recovery 
  • Interrelationships of mental health and environmental health
  • Architectures, urbanities, rural life and health and medicine 
  • Histories, photography, ethnographies of environments of recovery and recovered environs
  • Sound, environment, and health
  • Seas, waters, and health
  • Mountains and health
  • Fires and health
  • Entanglements of human and animal health
  • Supernatural/magical agents, the environment, and health

The workshop will take place at the University of Exeter on 26-27 July 2023. 

To submit a paper for consideration for the workshop, please email a title, a 250-word summary, and a 100-word bio to the three organisers:; and Please include ‘Healthscapes’ in the subject of your email.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 15 May 2023. 

The organisers aim to respond to submissions before the end of May, and are pleased to be able to cover travel and accommodation for all selected participants.

Contributions will also be considered as part of special issue for an international peer-reviewed journal. Moreover, the workshop is envisaged as a step towards the creation of an international network around health and environmental humanities of the MENA, based at the University of Exeter. Participants will be invited to join this international network, with plans for follow-on meetings in the years to come.

Dr Semih Celik

Dr Maziyar Ghiabi

Dr Chris Sandal-Wilson