Museums and Beyond: Public Histories of Mental Illness in the 21st Century – CALL FOR PAPERS

Date / time: 7 October, All day

Museums and Beyond: Public Histories of Mental Illness in the 21st Century - CALL FOR PAPERS

The University of Huddersfield and The Mental Health Museum

UK Conference: Wednesday 10 – Thursday 11 April 2024

Museums and Beyond: Public Histories of Mental Illness in the 21st Century

Call for Papers, deadline – 7 October 2023

Historians of mental illness have long been at the forefront of public engagement activities but, in the past decade, this work has taken on additional significance. With a rising tide of expectations focusing on research engagement and impact, now more than ever, the co-production and co-curation of research and knowledge outcomes occupy an important place in the public history landscape. Often, reflection on this topic focuses on the presentation of the past in museums or other heritage settings. However, as strategic priorities change over time, and as scholarship continues to expand into new geographical, spatial, chronological and methodological areas of analysis, newer opportunities for engagement present themselves and newer challenges have arisen. This two‐day event offers an opportunity to share examples of good practice and highlight the innovative contributions that historians, and the humanities more broadly, make to wider society. It is also a chance to critically explore the challenges that arise from working in partnership.

The organisers invite proposals for 20-minute papers on the public histories of mental illness that include, but are not limited to:

  • Innovative engagement with museums and their publics
  • Impact and engagement during Covid-19
  • Self-care and the psychological impacts of partnership working
  • Co-produced outputs involving service-user or other community groups
  • The place of the historian in policy- and/or place-making
  • Decolonising the public histories of mental illness
  • The challenges of ‘presentism’ in partnership working
  • Engaging the public using digital resources
  • International or transnational engagement and impact
  • The role and place of creativity and/or the creative arts in the public histories of mental illness
  • The challenges and opportunities of working with under-served groups
  • The challenges and opportunities of working with school-age children
  • Digital transformation and museum practices

In each case, we see ‘the public’ as broadly defined and we welcome inter- or cross-disciplinary proposals from a range of international contexts. Joint presentations with community partners and proposals for three‐paper panels are also welcome and we hope to offer some small bursaries for postgraduate and early career researchers. Part of the conference will take place at the Mental Health Museum, Wakefield. This will enable delegates to see, first-hand, some of the material culture of psychiatry and to take part in some object-handling exercises and other activities with Museum staff.

Please send a c.300‐word abstract and 5 key words, along with a short biography of each author, to the organisers by 7 October 2023. We intend to submit a proposal for an edited collection to Palgrave Macmillan’s Mental Health in Historical Perspective series as a follow‐up to this event and hope delegates will be interested in publishing with us (subject to the usual peer review process).

Organisers: Rob Ellis (University of Huddersfield) and Jane Stockdale, (Mental Health Museum)

Image: Wiki Commons –  Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.