Call for submissions for new series: The Hospital Multiple

The Hospital Multiple

Explorations into how it is made, felt, improvised, envisioned and counted

Somatosphere Series

edited by Janina Kehr and Fanny Chabrol 

Since COVID-19 has come to haunt the globe, hospitals of all guises have emerged as symbols of a medical response to the pandemic. Hospitals stand for intensive care for the sick; they represent professional labor and engagement; fears of their collapse is the reason for drastic sanitary and security measures being taken in many countries. In the current crisis, hospitals take on a variety of forms and meanings. They encompass, among other things: admired flagships of the health system; mobile, military field hospitals; impromptu mass treatment centers; overwhelmed medical institutions where triage is operated; public infrastructures drained by austerity; geopolitical investments; sites of ingenuity and improvisation; places of danger, infection and death, solitude and overcrowding, healing and falling sick.

With this new Somatosphere series, we call for a broad and renewed reflection on hospitals as peculiar places in different parts of the world, in times of the present pandemic, to be sure, but also beyond the current moment of crisis. Nourished by recent anthropological approaches to hospitals as “affective infrastructures” (Street 2012), “haunted” (Varley & Varma 2018)sites, and places “as such” with specific politics, properties and forms of production (Kehr & Chabrol 2018), we call for contributions that address hospitals in their historical thickness, geopolitical situatedness, affective materiality, and mundane everydayness. The call includes, but is not limited to, the following topics:

  • hospitals and their emplacements and environments
  • histories/ethnographies of particular hospitals
  • affect and emotion within hospitals or in their regard
  • manifestations of belonging or contestation
  • hospitals as public service providers, private institutions, or PPPs
  • hospital financing and accounting
  • hospitals as sites of iatrogenesis and nosocomial infection
  • hospital architecture and the spatial (re-)organization of hospital
  • hospitals as places of pain and desire
  • hospitals as mobile infrastructures
  • hospitals and the military
  • hospitals as sites of everyday ingenuity, improvisation and negotiation

Neither wanting to fetishize hospitals nor wanting to dispossess them of their peculiar affective and infrastructural attributes, we hope for intriguing anthropological, sociological, historical or experiential texts and/or photo essays of specific hospital places all over the world. 

If you are interested in contributing, please send an email with a short abstract to and preferably before May 1, 2020.

Contributions can be between 1500 and 2500 words but shorter essays are also welcome.

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