Mind the Body

Three PhD positions Mind the Body

The department of Culture Studies Tilburg University invites applications for three four-year PhD positions (1,0 fte) starting 1 September, 2017.

These three PhD positions are funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), by means of a VICI grant for the research project Mind the Body: Rethinking embodiment in healthcare (principal investigator: Prof. dr. Jenny Slatman).

In current healthcare, health problems are categorized as either somatic or psychological. The result of this dualistic categorization is that the body is reduced to a biological or neurological thing. This project intends to provide an alternative theory of the body in health care.

Meaning of the body and embodiment

PhD project I: The meaning of embodiment in mups

This PhD-project involves the exploration of the way embodiment is experienced, framed and staged in so-called medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) and its treatment. It comprises of two subprojects:

  1. one subproject involves ethnographic research of haptonomy and osteopathy practices related to MUPS (observations, in-depth interviews with patients and professionals);
  2. the other subproject involves the analysis of patients’ views and experiences of MUPS such as they are narrated in literary texts and online texts.

PhD project II: The Meaning of the body and embodiment in obesity

This project explores how people with overweight or obesity experience their body, prior, during and after treatment. The researcher will investigate two different treatment trajectories: weight loss surgery and an exercise on prescription program. For this, the researcher will

  1. conduct a longitudinal ethnographic study at one of the clinics of the Dutch Obesity Center (NOK) (observation and in-depth interviews with professionals and patients); and
  2. the researcher will conduct a participatory empirical research of people who have a prescription for De Beweegkuur: a lifestyle intervention program (exercising and psychological counseling) which aims at losing weight (observations, interviews with professionals and participants, participation in exercising program).

PhD project III: The Meaning of the body and embodiment in depression

It is a wide-spread belief that depression is caused by a serotonin shortage in the brain and that treatment should therefore aim at restoring the chemical balance in the brain. This project aims at exploring what these therapies actually bring about in people’s embodied experiences – apart from the question what they do or not do in the brain. For this, the researcher will conduct

  1. an empirical study on how people suffering from a mild depression experience their body while using antidepressants (interviews); and
  2. the researcher will conduct a participatory ethnography of running therapy sessions (participation in running, observations, interviews with participants and instructors).


  • For more information, please contact: Prof. Dr. Jenny Slatman ( (project leader).
  • Please send your application no later than the 10th of May, 11.59 pm (CET)
  • Please mention the number(s) and title(s) of the PhD project(s) you apply for.
  • More information and application here.

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