Professor Joanna Bourke ‘What is Pain? A History’

4 July 2012

Prothero Lecture 2012, 4 July 2012


What is pain? This article argues that it is useful to think of pain as a ‘kind of event’ or a way of being-in-the-world. Pain-events are unstable; they are historically constituted and reconstituted in relation to language systems, social and environmental interactions and bodily comportment. The historical question becomes: how has pain been done and what ideological work do acts of being-in-pain seek to achieve? By what mechanisms do these types of events change? Who decides the content of any particular, historically specific and geographically situated ontology?