Putting Region in Its Place: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Health, Healing and Place 2007

Ve., Oct. 26, 2007 (Toute la journée) - Di., Oct. 28, 2007 (Toute la journée)

Of the social phenomena said to distinguish the modern era from previous periods of history, the process known as globalization is often held as paradigmatic. Notoriously ill defined, the term denotes an ongoing set of processes by which science, technology and medicine are standardized and universalized, and industry, commerce, and communication become increasingly interconnected and integrated. For all the homogenization that globalization fosters in these myriad ways, the quality of life within the resulting landscapes and lived spaces is far from uniform. Indeed, the health challenges people confront across regions vary and health care practices and institutions often reflect aspects of regional geographies and cultures. As its overarching theme, this conference promoted an exploration of how the particularities of place, expressed in a vast range of localized rural and urban experiences and traditions, relates to universalized forms of knowledge and practice associated with health, healing and health care.

Sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and
the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, the conference was both
international and interdisciplinary. It attracted scholars from the United States, the United
Kingdom and Canada representing disciplines including history, anthropology,
psychology, nursing, native studies, medicine, sociology and geography. Rob Shields,
Tory Chair in Sociology and Art & Design at the University of Alberta, delivered the
conference’s thematic address on the meanings and understandings of place. For Shields,
place is real, but intangible, a qualitative expression of community formed in part by the
relationships between people and between people and things. In this sense, place
transcends geography.