Conference talk at CRITICAL: NNMHR Congress 2023
Postdigital Health Practices: New Directions in Medical Humanities
Monika Pietrzak-Franger‘s programmatic talk at the NNMHR Congress 2023 sets the stage for and conceptualizes postdigital health practices as a possible field of inquiry within critical medical humanities. While delineating some central aspects of said practices, I draw attention to their significance in contemporary strategies of knowledge production. Spotlighting online environments as the point of ingress for the analysis of these practices, and seeing them as chief sites for the communication of subjective evidence and experiential knowledge, I propose three focal points of possible critical and methodological engagement: serialization, multimodality, and transmediality. I argue that by attending to these, we have a chance to both augment and go beyond the field’s long-standing preoccupation with narrative, spotlight various (new) strategies of communicating illness experience, and re-frame them within larger questions of systemic inequalities. If the Covid-19 pandemic can be conceptualized as a ‘syndemic’ (Horton 2020), attention to the postdigital health practices that have come in its wake can also yield further insight as to how we conceive of health and illness, how we communicate in this context, and how we act on those conceptions and representations. On this basis, I sketch some of the directions that future strands of medical humanities may take and some of the questions we still have to ask for the field to overcome its own biases and blind spots.