Deadline: June 01, 2018

Helena Franzén

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General Description:

Definitions of what counts as a valuable life implicitly and explicitly saturate both historical and contemporary narratives about birth defects, prenatal diagnoses, and disability. The aim of this workshop is to contribute knowledge of how life has been valued and by what means. We are interested in both historical and contemporary studies.
We are particularly interested in how different technologies, historically and currently, have guided, aided, or informed the valuation process. How, for example, have methods such as amniocentesis, ultrasound, new abortion methods, blood marker tests, but also prosthesis-technologies, bio-engineering methods, and economic calculation models, influenced the valuations? Which value scales, old or new, have collided in the processes, and with which consequences? How has the valuing and evaluation of life and its relation to different technologies been discussed and negotiated by scientists, medical professionals, lobbyists, policy makers, media, economists, pregnant women, individuals, parents, families, interest groups, or political and religious organizations?
We welcome proposals for papers or presentations of work-in-progress that analyze these questions from different perspectives.

Of special interest may be, for example, studies of:

  • Concepts of life value and evaluation in history, law, science and medicine.

  • Biopolitics and the making of life value as measurable and objective.

  • Technologies that help, change, or in other way affect the definition of value of life, or the evaluation of it.

  • Mathematical methods to calculate life value in economic terms, and their implementation.

  • Conflicts and negotiations around life value between different actors and/or interest groups, such as the medical professions, patient organizations, religious organizations, private/corporate actors, and nation states or the equivalent.

  • Visual cultures of a life worth living.

  • Birth defects and the value of life.

  • Normalization and medicalization.

Abstracts for papers or for work-in-progress presentations, of a maximum of 250 words, should be submitted no later than June 1, 2018, to

Please provide your full name, institutional affiliation, and contact details. The format of the workshop will not allow for more than c. 15 papers. We will evaluate the abstracts based on the originality of the research and the relevance to the theme of the workshop. Applicants will be notified if their papers have been accepted or not by June 17, 2018. The conference language is English.

Read the full call here!

bioethics disability genetics public health reproductive technologies