CfP: Theorising Personal Medical Devices: New Perspectives


Theorising Personal Medical Devices: New Perspectives

18th-19th September 2014
Post-doctoral Suite, 16 Mill Lane, University of Cambridge, Cambridge

Fuelled by the accelerating pace of technological development and a general shift to personalised, patient-led medicine alongside the growing Quantified Self and Big Data movements, the emerging field of personal medical devices is one which is advancing rapidly across multiple domains and disciplines – so rapidly that conceptual and empirical understandings of personal medical devices, and their clinical, social and philosophical implications, often lag behind new developments and interventions. Personal medical devices – devices that are attached to, worn by, interacted with, or carried by individuals for the purposes of generating biomedical data and/or carrying out medical interventions with/on the person concerned – have become increasingly significant in clinical and extra-clinical contexts owing to a range of factors including the growth of multimorbidity and chronic disease in ageing populations and the increasing sophistication and miniaturisation of personal devices themselves.

The aim of this symposium is to consider recent theoretical developments in the humanities and social sciences in relation to personal medical devices, and to address important gaps in understanding such as the differences between wearable and non-wearable devices, the ontological implications of personal devices for concepts of the body, the self, and technology, and the extent to which such questions may arise with particular force owing to ‘new’ technologies.

The symposium will take place at the University of Cambridge over two days, with the first day consisting of papers and keynote presentations, and with the second day consisting of further papers and a concluding panel of invited discussants from a range of backgrounds including computing science, clinical medicine, technology, and philosophy.

Keynote speakers:
Dr. Alex Faulkner, University of Sussex
Dr. Steve Matthewman, University of Auckland
Dr. Nick Fox, University of Sheffield
The symposium will combine invited and submitted papers from established and emerging scholars to consider how recent theoretical literature can shed light on current debates surrounding personal medical devices these and other important issues. Some of the questions that papers may address include:
How ‘personal’ are personal medical devices?
How new are ‘new’ medical technologies?
What are the implications of personal medical devices for enduring philosophical dualities such as mind/body and self/society?
What are the implications of personal medical devices for understandings of illness, medicine, and technology?
How can the interaction of diverse theoretical perspectives drive new conceptual understandings of personal medical devices?
We welcome submissions of papers that address these and other questions that relate to the use of personal medical devices. Paper proposals should consist of:
* a paper title
* authors/co-authors
* a short abstract of fewer than 300 characters
* a long abstract of fewer than 250 words.

Please submit papers by Monday 14th July 2014 in either Word or PDF format to Conor Farrington ( ) or Rebecca Lynch ( ).

Submissions from both early career and more established researchers are welcome, with a small number of the presentation slots reserved for early-career researchers (i.e. doctoral students or researchers in their first post-doctoral position). Thanks to Wellcome Trust funding we are also able to offer a limited amount of funding towards travel costs and cost of attendance for three early career presenters. Please specify if you would like to be considered for this.

There will be a small charge of £15 for attendance over the two days of the symposium. This covers refreshments and lunches over both days and is payable on registration.

Full-length versions of accepted presentations will be pre-circulated to a number of discussants who will introduce the papers and chair subsequent discussion. In addition to paper proposals, we also invite applications from individuals who wish to be considered as discussants, with a limited amount of funding available for two early-career discussants – again, please specify if you wish to be considered for this funding.

Discussant proposals should consist of:
* a CV and brief autobiography
* a general description of areas of research expertise
* a description of specific areas of interest with regard to personal medical devices/relevant bodies of theoretical work

Please contact Conor Farrington (, Rebecca Lynch ( ), or Simon Cohn ( if you would like further details of the event.

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