Notions of entanglement between the mind, the body and the soul: The role of literature in understanding health in Malawi
Scholarly attention to the critical health and medical humanities has expanded significantly in the 21st century. However, globally, their representations are dominated by Western discourses and thinkers. This seminar examines the meaning of African studies of literature and health by introducing key themes, concepts and practices that are emerging from Malawi.
Building upon Professor Steve Chimomobo’s work on HIV & AIDS in Malawian Literature, this talk engages narratives of health from Dr Kalinga's ongoing field studies across Malawi. From representations of the body, aesthetics of representing health and well-being, this paper puts forward an argument that engages the ways in which ordinary citizens engage with storytelling about health and the shared or disparate themes in both traditional and modern representations of health and the body. It advocates for the beginning of real dialogue with diverse medical cultures and pedagogies that challenges Western knowledge hierarchies.
Dr Chisomo Kalinga is a Wellcome-funded postdoctoral fellow in the medical humanities at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. Her current Wellcome-funded project is titled ‘Ulimbaso ‘You will be strong again’: How literary aesthetics and storytelling inform concepts of health and wellbeing in Malawi’. Which engages how indigenous literary practices (performance, form and aesthetics) are used to address community health. Her research interests are disease (specifically sexually transmitted infections), illness and wellbeing, biomedicine, traditional healing and witchcraft and their narrative representation in African oral and print literatures.