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Medical humanities as expressive of Western culture
  1. Claire Hooker,
  2. Estelle Noonan
  1. Medical Humanities Program, Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire Hooker, Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine, Level 1 Medical Foundation Building (K25), 92–94 Parramatta Road, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; clairehookerwork{at}gmail.com Or Dr Estelle Noonan, Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine, Level 1 Medical Foundation Building (K25), 92–94 Parramatta Road, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia; estelle.noonan{at}sydney.edu.au

Abstract

In this paper we articulate a growing awareness within the field of the ways in which medical humanities could be deemed expressive of Western cultural values. The authors suggest that medical humanities is culturally limited by a pedagogical and scholarly emphasis on Western cultural artefacts, as well as a tendency to enact an uncritical reliance upon foundational concepts (such as ‘patient’ and ‘experience’) within Western medicine. Both these tendencies within the field, we suggest, are underpinned by a humanistic emphasis on appreciative or receptive encounters with ‘difference’ among patients that may unwittingly contribute to the marginalisation of some patients and healthcare workers. While cultural difference should be acknowledged as a central preoccupation of medical humanities, we argue that the discipline must continue to expand its scholarly and critical engagements with processes of Othering in biomedicine. We suggest that such improvements are necessary in order to reflect the cultural diversification of medical humanities students, and the geographical expansion of the discipline within non-Western and/or non-Anglophone locations.

  • Medical humanities
  • culture
  • difference
  • other (ness)
  • cultural studies
  • cross-cultural studies
  • art and medicine
  • arts in health/arts and health
  • literary studies

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Footnotes

  • Linked articles 010045, 010034, 010044.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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