Health/Care/Nation (10 April 2010; 14-17 October 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Christina Simmons / University of Windsor
contact email: 


A conference sponsored by the Canadian Association for American Studies and the University of Windsor

Windsor, Ontario 14-17 October 2010 (proposal deadline: 10 April 2010)

During 2009 fears of "death panels" clashed with calls for universal coverage, as President Barack Obama encountered an increasingly heated debate about health-care reform. In this moment the very definitions of the terms health and care and their relations to concepts of the nation are taking on new significance in American political and cultural life. For some vocal Americans, the deeply held values of self-reliance and suspicion of government control are bound up with the "system" (be it the health-care system, or more general national, economic, social, and/or cultural systems), while at the same time a majority wants the government to guarantee health insurance for all in a Medicare-like program. A different provision for health-care invokes various and contradictory national and personal self-definitions and political battles. Body scanning, pandemic planning, the criminalization of abortion, and the proposal that all citizens must have health insurance are just a few examples of sites where these new definitions and struggles are engaged. What becomes apparent, then, are the complicated layers and contradictions in political and cultural debates. This conference, sponsored by the Canadian Association for American Studies and the University of Windsor, aims to explore the topics of U.S. health, care, and nation, together or separately, in order to illuminate and clarify the cultural contradictions and historical, cultural, and philosophical roots of these issues. We particularly encourage interdisciplinary panels that address the questions from different intellectual angles–history, literature, film and media studies, gender and sexuality studies, political science, sociology, philosophy, or the arts. Topics could include, but are not limited to:

The American political system and the problem of health care reform
Representations of health (widely defined)
Representations of health-care
Representations of disability
Biopolitics, surveillance, and/or socialist medicine
The philosophy and/or history of American "health"
The history of earlier American proposals for national health insurance
Health and gender
The philosophy and/or history of stem cell research
The philosophy and/or history of abortion and women's medicine
Feminist health care activism
"Caring" and the nation
Nationalism vs. nationalizing
The American body politic
The business of selling health
Pandemics and other fears
The Hollywood Image: Anorexia/Obesity/Plastic

This is only a partial list, as the conference theme is defined widely; topics from all areas of American Studies will be considered. We invite panel or individual proposals from faculty and independent scholars and particularly welcome graduate student proposals. A brief CV for each participant and an abstract of 250 words or less for each paper, with an additional paragraph of 200 words to describe panels, should be sent electronically by 10 April to:

Christina Simmons, CAAS Conference Committee
Department of History
University of Windsor
401 Sunset Ave.
Windsor, ON N9B 3P4