CFS: Med Humanitarianism (Soc Sci & Med)

CALL FOR PAPERS: SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE SPECIAL ISSUE Medical Humanitarianism: Culture, Health, and States of Emergency


‘Medical humanitarianism’ – the delivery of health-related services by international non-governmental organizations – has a prominent international presence in contexts of violence, famine or natural disasters. Increasingly, social scientists find themselves working alongside medical humanitarians in fieldwork conditions best characterized as states of emergency or crisis.

Goals of this special issue: We seek to provide social science analyses of medical humanitarianism and establish a dialogue in the field of humanitarian practice. Our goal is to a) develop a base for comparison, analysis, and insight, and b) promote direct engagement between social scientists and humanitarian practitioners. We seek (i) systematic, comprehensive, or critical reviews of the literature, (ii) original research articles, that provide make a substantive empirical and original contribution, (iii) well-articulated critiques that go further than a personal overview or commentary. We thus seek original papers that make strong empirical and theoretical contributions, and have strong policy relevance. Of interest are the following issues:

  •  What is the content of medical humanitarian services? What makes their uniqueness in terms of healthcare delivery?
  •  What insights are generated from a comparative perspective on medical humanitarianism?
  •  How do medical humanitarians take culture, social relations, and issues of demography, equity, and justice into quotidian practice?
  •  What are the characteristics of relations and transactions in medical humanitarian encounters?
  •  How do personal relations structure the dynamics and shape of medical humanitarianism?
  •  How do medical humanitarians negotiate need vs. scarcity, limits vs. access, independence vs. negotiation, and other critical conflicts in humanitarian practice?
  •  Issues of funding, policy, translational research, clinical medicine, public health interventions, or the application of medical humanitarianism to International Criminal Court proceedings, human rights testimonies, or political witnessing.

Abstract submission: Please submit a 250 word abstract (and also your 3 key take-home messages of the paper) by email to 20 March 2013 to Sharon Abramowitz (University of Florida) or submit online at All abstracts will be reviewed by guest editors for originality and substance – your abstract must specify issues, sample, and analysis. If your abstract meets our quality requirements, you will be asked to write a full article on health and humanitarianism in states of emergency. Papers submitted to the journal will need to undergo the rigorous review process of Social Science & Medicine with no guarantee of final publication.

Sharon Abramowitz, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology & Center for African Studies, University of Florida, PO BOX 117305, 494 Grinter Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611

Tel: 352-273-4763, Fax: 352-392-2435, Email:

Visit the website at



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