CFP: VANDA (Vienna Anthropology Days) 2020 (September 28-October 1)

VANDA is an international ONLINE conference. It aims to bring together scholars from various fields of anthropology, social sciences and humanities.

We invite you to submit paper abstracts to our session:

“Smallness” as an analytic category in medical anthropology (Session 3)

Organizers: Eva-Maria Knoll (Austrian Academy of Sciences) & Malgorzata Rajtar (Polish Academy of Sciences)

Abstract: A notion of “smallness” plays a crucial role in life with and policies on many diseases, specifically rare disorders but also epidemics or vaccination coverage. Drawing from conceptualizations of smallness proposed as an anthropological stronghold by Hannerz & Gingrich (eds. 2017), this session invites critical contributions that attend to the issue of smallness, critical numbers, threshold values and the likes in the medical field.

Small populations afflicted or small numbers of cases might require special strategies and programs to be noticed. A ‘too small’ for epidemiologists might still have a large impact on the everyday life of local communities. Stigma might be related to smallness. Following Hannerz & Gingrich (2017:6), we want to ask how smallness in reference to health matters “affect(s) life and thought, sensibilities as well as structures of social relationships, in everyday life as well as in the context of critical events.”

How do people, governmental, non-governmental, and transnational organizations perceive smallness regarding afflicted bodies and diseases in their contexts of time, space, environment, and socio-political constellations? What anthropological, medical, and public health strategies and policies are implemented to address research on and/or treatment of (rare, chronic, communicable) diseases that affect a small number of people? What is the role of biosocialities (Rabinow 1996, Gibbon and Novas 2008) in facilitating intimacies, linkages, and networks within these diseases fields? How is “branding” of small populations and their unique diseases (Tupasela 2017) utilized in the context of genetics and biobanking? What is the role of migration in influencing and destabilizing common ideas about the low prevalence of certain diseases in any given region or country?

Deadline for the Call for Papers is July 1st, 2020. Please submit a descriptive abstract (in English; max. 350 words) at:

The Pre-Existing Vulnerabilities of Patients With Rare Disorders in Poland During a Global Pandemic

Rajtar, M. 2020. The Pre-Existing Vulnerabilities of Patients With Rare Disorders in Poland During a Global Pandemic (#WitnessingCorona). In: Medizinethnologie Körper, Gesundheit und Heilung in einer globalisierten Welt. >>>

Call for papers

We would like to invite you to submit proposals to our panel “Awkward collaborations” in studying people with chronic and rare diseases (P12) to be organized at the Mobilising Methods in Medical Anthropology conference will be held 3 to 4 September 2020 at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


Dr Eva-Maria Knoll, Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Dr hab. Małgorzata Rajtar, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences


Among scientists and the general public, research on chronic and/or rare diseases has been regarded a domain of the biological and medical sciences. Genes, tissues, and blood samples seem to belong to laboratories rather than constituting socio-political and economic realities. The bodies of participants in clinical trials, babies undergoing newborn screening or blood donors among others, are foregrounded and scrutinized in order to obtain measurable, comparable, and quantifiable data. Subjected to medicalizing concepts and practices, patients and their families, members of patient advocacy groups, and policy makers often appropriate the language rooted in biological and medical sciences.

In this panel, we want to ask what happens when medical anthropologists and other social scientists enter this picture of concept and data creation and perpetuation as collaborators and researchers. Drawing on the idea of “awkward collaboration” (Yates-Doerr 2019), this panel invites papers that address ethical, conceptual, and methodological efforts to work with and/or around differences arising in collaborative research on chronic and rare diseases.

The Call for Papers closes on 12 May 2020.

Proposals should consist of a paper title, a (very) short abstract of <300 characters and an abstract of 250 words. All proposals must be made via the online form that can be found on each panel page: