Open Panel at 4S/EASST: Histories and Ecologies of Therapeutic Places

Franz Kather & Markus Rudolfi are organizing an open panel at the 4S/EASST conference in Prague with the title "Histories and Ecologies of Therapeutic Places" (Panel Nr. 78) and cordially invite contributions. Deadline for abstract submission is February 29th, 2020.

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Recent studies from toxicology have described healthy effects of a practice called “forest bathing”. People walking through forests “shower” in aerosols such as Terpenes that are supposed to reduce stress, to name but one beneficial effect. This exemplary framing of ecosystems like forests, sea shores or mountains as places of therapeutic capacity exhibits the ways in which medical knowledge rediscovers exogenous factors of human recovery, mirroring the beginnings of clinical therapeutic practices since the 18th century. Early clinical medicine began as a technology marked by concern about the regulation and manipulation of environmental impact. In the context of the ‘general ecologies’ in current discourse and practice, this concern appears to be reinstated.

However, minding the ongoing loss of biodiversity and increase of environmental pollution, the possibility of therapeutic environments is now cast in different lights -- where technologically altered environments used to harbour promises of perfection, they now convey much more dire connotations. Previously perceived to be much at odds, ecological care and personal (mental) healthcare now appear to go hand in hand: Health no longer appears as threatened by hostile environments, but concern for those environments now figures as care for oneself, as burgeoning fields like eco-psychology illustrate as much as the forceful interest for an ethics of care in postnatural worlds within STS research. We propose, therefore, to engage the history and genealogy of therapeutic places and the technical translation of medical knowledge into technologies and architectures of therapy as a conceptual and epistemological starting point to reflect on current rediscoveries of environmental therapy -- while minding the transformations and shifts that offset them.

The panel invites historical, empirical and speculative papers that discuss how “therapy” is related to “healthy ecosystems”, therapeutic technologies and infrastructures, and/or the challenge of defining such therapeutic places given the possibly troubling underlying assumptions of what “therapy”, “environment”, or “health” may be.

Questions we would like to address therefore include considerations of this nexus over changing historical and geographical contexts, as much as the concomitant epistemologies and ontologies of their respective instaurations.

Submit your abstract (up to 250 words) via the conference website:

For any further questions please contact us:
Franz Kather (Bielefeld University) - jakob_franz.kather[at]
Markus Rudolfi (Goethe University Frankfurt/Main) - rudolfi[at]