The critical health and medical humanities as a field of inquiry explore the intersections between the human condition through the arts, philosophies, literatures and histories and their engagement with a broad spectrum of the health and biological sciences and practices, including illness, medicine, treatment, recovery and death. It incorporates the analysis of critical theories (for example, feminist, disability, queer, postcolonial, etc.) to advocate a closer engagement with ‘notions of entanglement’—as opposed to being in service or in opposition—to the health/biomedical sciences and core social themes such as ethnicity, economic inequities, gender, and national identity. It includes representation that chronicles illness, art that showcases the diseased body, disability studies, music that can be used for therapy, all forms of art interventions and many more such intersections of health and humanities. The terminology and formalised studies of medical humanities may be recent but the core concepts are not.
Malawi’s own scholars–the late Professors Steve Chimombo and Chris Kamlongera–were pioneers in bringing the arts into conversation with health, community and development in local communities. Through this website, we seek to take this a step forward by bringing research methods developed by Malawian pioneers into a digital space. Each culture negotiates and defines its tenets of wellness, illness and treatment. This archive is open to both artistic and academic pursuits as we aspire to create a sustainable a hub for different practitioners to participate in knowledge exchange pertaining to the Malawian cultural experience of health and wellbeing. We were inspired at the conference by the depth and scope of research of medical humanities work in Malawi. We hope that this resource will strengthen support for medical humanities studies and encourage people around the world to contribute resources that are not easy to find.