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Cultural analysis in the health sciences

Research is a cultural activity and therefore we cannot ignore the structures that those cultures entail. How can cultural analysis help us elucidate the epistemological and ethical consequences of this? Research on physical activity, bodily practices and health is to a large extent still divided according to various scientific and social/cultural perspectives. However, the very distinction between the body as biological or the body as social is in itself a culturally constituted division.

This course seeks to elucidates how cultural analysis can contribute to the understanding of how the body and physical activity is constituted as an object of investigation, and which consequences that has for the development of knowledge within the health sciences. The course takes place over the course of two days and is focusing on cultural analysis and its traditions in relation to the health sciences today, including:

  • Research in the health sciences as a culturally constituted practice
  • The “craft” of cultural analysis in different traditions and how it can be used within research in the health sciences

The course focuses on the cultural analysis of different kinds of material (whether it be material collected through observation/interviews or cultural artefacts/texts) and how that analysis might be undertaken through different perspectives.

The course addresses both PhD candidates working with cultural analysis as their primary method, and PhD candidates who has no prior experience, but wish to extend their epistemological understanding of how their work is situated within knowledge production in the health sciences or use cultural analysis as a supplementary perspective.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the course the PhD candidate is able to:

- Account for different traditions of cultural analysis and how they contribute to the health sciences today
- Account for current perspectives within cultural analysis and the way they open up for an epistemological discussion of how research as such is culturally constituted

- Present and discuss their own field of research and the way cultural analysis can contribute to their projects
- Conduct cultural analysis in academic discussions and in writing in a way that is relevant to their field of research

- Understand and discuss the epistemological consequences of the fact that all research is culturally situated and constituted
- Understand and discuss the ethical considerations that this opens and the responsibility of the researcher that this entails

Course credits:
1,5 ECTS

Please write a short synopsis:

1) Write a short introduction to your project (½ page).

2) Write your reflections on one of the following questions, depending on what is most relevant in your work and your field (1-2 pages):

  • Which culturally constituted research practices are current in your field within the health sciences, and which consequences (possibilities/obstacles) do they have for your research?
  • How does the distinction between biological/cultural processes operate in your field, and how does that affect your research?
  • Which traditions of cultural analysis do you build your research on, and which questions arise when these are employed within the field of health sciences?

Please upload it under “assignments” in the E-learn course before February 26th and be prepared to present the main points at the workshop.


Course leaders:
Annemari Munk Svendsen & Signe Højbjerre Larsen

Guest lectures by:
Professor Hans Lund, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Assistant Professor Camilla Damkjær, Stockholm University of the arts, Professor Karen Hvidtfelt Madsen, University of Southern Denmark and Professor Susanne Ravn, University of Southern Denmark.

Course materials follows


Course Fee: The course is free of charge for PhD students enrolled in Universities that have joined the "Open market agreement". For other participants there is a course fee of DKK 4843,36,-.