Symposium - Environmental Illness Today

  • Date:
  • Location: Universitetshuset Hall IX.
  • Organiser: Ecological Narratives research group at Uppsala University and Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society (CIRCUS), Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the Department of English
  • Contact person: Ingrid Berg
  • Konferens

The symposium is an initiative of the Ecological Narratives research group at Uppsala University. Generous support comes from the Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society (CIRCUS), Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the Department of English. This interdisciplinary symposium draws on a variety of methodologies to explore various facets of environmental illness.

Environmental intolerance can be characterized by variable complex symptoms that patients attribute to one or more environmental factors in the occupational setting or the general environment. While medical examinations seldom result in a specific medical or psychiatric diagnosis, the patients do experience illness. The symptoms are triggered at very low levels of exposure that patients perceive as risks. These low levels are usually tolerated by the majority of the population even after long periods of exposure and are not considered established risk factors for disease. The patients, on the other hand, attribute their symptoms to more or less clearly defined factors in the indoor environment, due exposure to metals, chemicals, electromagnetic fields, or noise. To varying degrees, environmental intolerance can impact the daily lives of patients, result in avoidance behavior, and subsequent disability. The prevalence of environmental intolerance varies between cultures and societies, but in the Western world about 3-10% of the population has in environmental health questionnaires reported self-assessed environmental intolerance. These patients therefore present themselves in primary health care and are sometimes referred to a clinic in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. All this makes environmental illness an interesting phenomenon deserving of investigation from multiple perspectives. This interdisciplinary symposium draws on a variety of methodologies – derived from the study of narrative, medical sociology and history, experimental psychology, psychiatry, law, and medical anthropology – to explore various facets of environmental illness.

The symposium addresses questions such as the following: How do we define environmental illness and what are its clinical, cultural, and legislative ramifications?

How should the medical profession deal with such afflictions? Can we observe commonalities and differences in environmental susceptibility across cultures, genders, races, and historical conjunctures?

Finally, to what extent are environmental illnesses adaptive responses to the pressures of globalization and modernity?

Language: The symposium will be held in English

Cost: The symposium is free of cost (Coffee/tea included)

Application: yet to be opened.

Program: announced in December

More information about the symposium:

Michael Boyden, Associate Professor of American Literature, Department of English, Uppsala University (michael.boyden@engelska.uu.se)

Martin Tondel, associate professor, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University (martin.tondel@medsci.uu.se)

For practical questions:

Ingrid Berg, project coordinator, Center for Integrated Research on Culture and Society, Uppsala University 

Symposium - Environmental Illness Today