The art of health

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Victoria Hume


Breathe:, Volume 4, Issue 2, p.140-7 (2007)




The arts matter because they are universal; because they are nonmaterial; because they deal with daily experience in a transforming way; because they question the way we look at the world; and because they offer different explanations of that world... "A nation with-out arts would be a nation that had stopped talking to itself, stopped dreaming, and had lost interest in the past and lacked curiosity about the future" [1]. The point of art in healthcare is the same as the point of art anywhere. Creativity is something necessary and automatic, and something which becomes all the more important where people find
themselves under pressure, or struggling to communicate.

Medical Humanities in Africa

WISER is working to establish the field of medical humanities in South Africa with other partners at Wits and in the region. Medical Humanities took root in the interdisciplinary spaces between social history of medicine, medical sociology, medical anthropology, literary studies, art and film studies, cultural studies, politics, philosophy, legal studies, public health, psychiatry, medical economics and medical ethics. Although initially concerned with contrasting and comparing approaches from the humanities and medical science to themes of health, suffering, therapy, pain and illness, it has grown in ambition to consider the foundational question of what it is to be fully human, inviting debate around vital epistemological problems. The interface of medicine and humanities also demands a broadly interdisciplinary discussion about what constitutes evidence, and this is critical in the formulation of all contemporary political arguments, including health policies. 

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