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CSAA Conference Abstracts – Dertadian / Roesler

(Non)Medical Pain Problems? Participant Perspectives on Problematized Notions of Pain

George Christopher Dertadian (Doctoral Candidate, Institute for Culture & Society, University of Western Sydney)

Of the many contentious elements of the debate about pain, it would seem that the medical community agree on one thing; pain is a physical problem. Indeed it seems a commonsense assumption that pain is both caused by and emanates from a physical part of the body. However, the ideological frameworks which accompany the association between pain and the physical are not necessarily concrete, nor do they represent all experiences of pain. Beyond medical understandings of pain the term seems to have a broader resonance for application outside the physical world. For example it is common to describe an awkward social encounter or a difficult divorce as painful. However such references are usually thought of as metaphorical. This paper explores the ‘reality’ of social and emotional pain. Throughout the paper I will draw from my current doctoral research into the non-medical use of pain medications, focusing on participant perspectives of problematized notions of pain. Lastly I will illustrate the material consequences of different conceptualizations of pain on the drug taking practice.


Arts Exchanges and the Transformation of the Social

Bettina Roesler (Doctoral Candidate, Institute for Culture & Society, University of Western Sydney)

Most societies cannot escape the various challenges and changes associated with globalisation and the increasingly interconnected world. There are numerous, at times conflicting, theories attempting to develop approaches to managing the inevitable social change. The value of art as a transformative force for these social changes is much debated. Recent tendencies in art, understood as a form of mediation, “demonstrate a different mode of engagement with the processes of social transformation” (Nikos Papastergiadis 2012, p.94). Members of the art world, traditionally perceived to be world-open and in recent decades increasingly mobile, are enabling much needed spaces of communication between cultures. My research is investigating the moments and sites of contact between Australian artists and writers in residence in Asia. Funded under a cultural diplomatic umbrella of projecting a positive image of Australia, the dynamics are a lot more complex in practice, yet generally underrepresented. Responses collected in an online survey taken by more than 140 former Asialink residents and interviews conducted with more than 15 residents, together with visits to selected host organisations in Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong and Japan helped tracing the neglected aspects of cultural exchanges. The intention to analyse the situation in practice is aimed at providing more depth to the understanding of cultural exchange and thus re-articulating ways in which its value is formulated, which will ultimately help to acknowledge the role of art as a valuable player for social change.

Literature: Papastergiadis, Nikos. (2012). Cosmopolitanism and Culture. Cambridge: Polity.


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