Nocebos & Meaning-Making: A Call for Abstracts

We’re delighted that our panel, Nocebos, Nocebo Studies, and STS: Meaning-Making and Recalcitrance, has been accepted for the upcoming meeting of 4S.  This session will be organized/chaired by Ada Jaarsma (Mount Royal University), Suze Berkhout (University of Toronto), and Khadija Coxon (McGill-Queen’s University Press).  4S will take place in Prague, August 18-21; here’s the link to more conference information.

Here’s our call for abstracts:

Nocebos, described by some as placebo’s evil twin, are unwelcome yet inextricable elements of medical treatment. In the mid-twentieth century, practices of informed consent were eliciting such pervasive adverse effects that researchers coined the term “Nocebo Effect” to render such impacts recognizable. Rather than anticipations of healing, the nocebo effect expresses expectations of harm—like side effects that emerge even when patients or trial participants receive placebos. While they are rarely familiar to the broader public, nocebo effects are intimately part of the array of interactions with which individuals relate to biomedicine. Nocebos point to the porous lines between bodies and epistemologies and between clinics and daily lives; as experiments in the burgeoning field of Nocebo Studies suggest, learning one’s genetic predispositions for disease or encountering media coverage of a generic drug’s ineffectiveness contribute to negative outcomes. Nocebos dramatize a liveliness that Isabelle Stengers and Vincianne Despret describe as “recalcitrance.” At odds with bifurcating logics that keep “matter” and “meaning” apart, nocebos animate a kind of meaning-making that is palpable, involuntary, and unwanted. This panel seeks to contribute to STS by exploring how nocebos and Nocebo Studies draw attention to the ontological choreography of biomedicine, such as the assemblages, practices or relations that constitute medical treatment and research. We welcome papers that examine the import of nocebos—broadly construed—for resistance to the norms and curative ambitions of medical treatment. And we invite presenters to make use of creative or new methodologies for identifying, interpreting and making sense of nocebo effects.

The deadline for submissions is Feb 29, 2020; here’s the link to submit a 250-word abstract.