Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

The Body in Translation: Historicising and Reinventing Medical Humanities and Knowledge Translation


Active 2019/2020 Social Sciences - Law


In this project we address the relations between man and nature, medicine and the humanities, using “translation” as our focal point. By investigating ideas and practices of translation in medicine and the humanities we aim to rethink the field of the medical humanities as a cross-disciplinary contact zone between the humanities and medicine. The project has a unique and ground-breaking interdisciplinary research design combining cultural history and the history of science with knowledge translation which is one of the major issues in contemporary medicine.

We will explore “translation” genealogically, comparatively and theoretically. On the one hand, we will historicize and develop contemporary medical knowledge translation (KT) by turning to current humanistic theories of translation and to test cases from the early modern period. On the other hand, we will challenge and develop theories of translation within the humanities by juxtaposing them with the scientific practice of knowledge translation. By contrasting KT with historical, cultural and epistemic differences from its scientific “prehistory”, and by analyzing it with reference to broader humanistic and material notions of translation, we aim to develop concepts of medical translation able to cope with contemporary epistemic and cultural differences. Based on these notions, we will establish the foundation for a Centre for Translational Medical Humanities based on the concept of a cross-disciplinary contact zone and equal synergy between the two disciplines.


Further reading:

Kristeva, Julia; Moro, Marie Rose; Ødemark, John & Engebretsen, Eivind (2017). Cultural crossings of care: An appeal to the medical humanities. Medical Humanities.  ISSN 1468-215X. . doi: http://mh.bmj.com/content/early/2017/09/21/medhum-2017-011263

Engebretsen, Eivind; Sandset, Tony Joakim & Ødemark, John (2017). Expanding the knowledge translation metaphor. Health Research Policy and Systems.  ISSN 1478-4505. . doi: 10.1186/s12961-017-0184-x


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