CFP: Translating Happiness: Medicine, Culture and ‘Social Progress’

world-happy-day-386x386This year the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) proclaimed March 20th the International Day of Happiness. This day is premised on international recognition of the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human goal, and a means of promoting sustainable development. International acknowledgement of the important role that happiness plays in development is also displayed in the 2012 World Happiness Report, as well as a host of recent changes to national social policies, community infrastructures and health services.

This special issue of Health, Culture and Society (HCS) explores the multiple and contested ways of knowing happiness. We are particularly interested in research that analyzes the translations of happiness. According to Nikolas Rose, translation provides for the possibility of government: “In the dynamics of translation, alignments are forged between the objectives of those wishing to govern and the personal projects of those organizations, groups, and individuals who are the subjects of government” (1999, p. 48). This issue aims to construct a comprehensive picture of the important role that translations of happiness – as made to appear in social philosophy, featured in the emerging field of positive psychology, mapped in global happiness indexes, or communicated in concepts such as ‘well-being’ or ‘quality of life’ – play in contemporary understandings of the ‘human’ and ‘human development.’ Papers are sought that explore the relations between happiness and health, and examine the social, cultural and political contexts of medical translations of happiness. Papers that share comparative analyses of happiness or that adopt a critical paradigm and analyze the role of conceptions of happiness in the diagnosis of individual and social ills and the reproduction of inequality are especially welcome.

Potential topic areas include:

· Happiness and Disability/Disablement/Ableism

· Happiness, Health Services and Social Policy

· Politicization of Happiness (Happiness Indexes)

· Cartographies of Happiness (e.g., ‘Happiness Maps’)

· Happiness and Constructions of ‘the Human’/Humanity

· Economic Paradigms of Happiness

· Ecological Perspectives

· Happiness and National Development (e.g., Gross National Happiness and/vs. Gross National Domestic Product)

· Happiness and Imperialism/The Colonial Continuum

· Happiness and Racialization/Racism

· Happiness and Global Governance

· Happiness and Self-Governance (e.g., The Emergence of Self-Help Literature)

· Happiness and Choice/The Making of the ‘Rational Subject’

· Happiness and Disciplinary Knowledge

· Happiness and Social Order (incl.: Happiness and Social Change; Happiness and the Pathologization of Resistance)

· Genealogies of Happiness (Historical Perspectives)

· Happiness Across the Lifecycle/The Role of Happiness in ‘Positive’ or Healthy Aging

· Happiness, Identity and Community/Solidarity and Subjective Well-being

· Happiness, Gender and Sexuality

· Happiness and Patriarchy

· Happiness, Heterosexism and Homophobia

· Happiness and Spirituality

· Happiness, Leisure and Lifestyle

· The Commodification of Happiness/Happiness and Consumer Culture

· (Re)Discovering (Un)Happiness – Diagnostic Tools and their Discontents (e.g., The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition)

· Happiness, Resilience and Recovery

· A Poetics of Happiness/Happiness and the Art of Living

· Happiness and Desire

· Happiness and a Politics of Love

· Embodiment and Happiness Research/Phenomenological Perspectives

Interested contributors are invited to send a 250 word proposal to no later than July 15th. Prospective contributors will be notified of acceptance by July 30th. For accepted proposals full papers will be due September 27th. Manuscripts submitted for inclusion in this special issue must be in APA format, be original work and should not be under consideration by any other journal.


Works Cited:

Rose, N. (1999). Powers of freedom: Reframing political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


About the Journal:

Health,Culture and Society (HCS) is an important contribution to the medical humanities and the social history of health. It will promote critical studies, disseminate important contemporary research and act as an international podium for the exchange of new ideas, strategies and practices. The journal is geared towards an inter-disciplinary approach to issues of health, culture and society inviting contributions from a diversity of fields. HCS will reflect the very real developments in ideas that shape our modern understandings of health, and how cultural and social factors are important to its paradigm. The journal encourages original and funded research into regional developments which can impact upon the global image of health, society and culture.

HCS is the product of initiative, research and debate centered on the history and development of the health paradigm. The facilitation of the University of Pittsburgh, the CNPq and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, as well as the Wellcome Trust and the University of Western Santa Catarina (UnoChapeco), made it possible to eventually bring together important and emerging voices in the debate of health which define the new critical perspectives, and research from the physical and social sciences. HCS serves as a platform which has been developed to meet the contemporary necessity for international dialogue, partnerships, collaboration, knowledge transformation and global integration.


Katie Aubrecht, PhD

Research Coordinator

Nova Scotia Centre on Aging

Mount Saint Vincent University

Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3M 2J6

T: 902-457-6193; F: 902-457-6508


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s