Narratives of Wellbeing: call for papers

1-2 September, 2022

Wellbeing’ has become a buzzword across the globe, fashionable amongst policy-makers, corporate managers, researchers, and in everyday settings. The popularity of the concept indicates an important social aspiration to improve quality of life across a range of areas. Yet, wellbeing is often embraced in an uncritical fashion, which assumes universal understandings about improvements in health and happiness that are straightforward to measure. 

The critical turn in wellbeing studies asks not only how wellbeing can be defined and measured, but what is created and excluded by the process of striving for and articulating wellbeing. Such perspectives move away from the focus on wellbeing indicators to ask: what we are talking about when we talk about wellbeing? And how might wellbeing be understood, experienced and mobilised differently in different contexts? 

To extend scholarly conversations on this subject,  Narratives of Wellbeing will be a symposium and edited volume that critically examine wellbeing through a narrative framework. Narratives are a window into the temporal nature of human experience (Ricoeur 1979) and narratives of wellbeing reveal how the aspiration to live well is socio-culturally and individually mediated. How is being well navigated, interpreted, articulated, and/or brought into being through the construction of narrative? How might the stories we tell about wellbeing change depending on the expected audience? What are the tensions and overlaps between various scripts about what it means to live well, socially, culturally, economically, and spiritually? How do certain narratives of wellbeing become authoritative while others are subjugated? When are narratives about wellbeing therapeutic and when are they iatrogenic? What do different narratives of wellbeing accomplish, produce and disguise? 

This interdisciplinary symposium and edited volume will bring together researchers who approach wellbeing from a range of perspectives, including: sociology; politics; anthropology; linguistics; history; Indigenous studies; philosophy; religious studies; development studies; and gender, sexuality and diversity studies. We welcome paper proposals on topics including, but not limited to: historical narratives about wellbeing; competing scripts about wellbeing; wellbeing as narrated in different disciplinary traditions; the strategic use of wellbeing narratives; power and inequality in the articulation of wellbeing; and the therapeutic possibilities of narrativising wellbeing.  

Symposium abstracts are due to be submitted by June 30, 2022. Symposium papers (2000-3000 words) will be pre-circulated a week before the event. The symposium will be convened in hybrid format online and at La Trobe University, Melbourne.  Following the symposium, participants will be invited to contribute to an edited volume, with full papers provisionally due 1 November 2022. Please contact the convenors with any questions.   

Convenors: Tarryn Phillips, Timothy Jones, Natalie Araujo and Jack Taylor 



RICOEUR, PAUL. “The Human Experience of Time and Narrative.” Research in Phenomenology, vol. 9, Brill, 1979, pp. 17–34,

Dates  Milestone  
May – June 2022  Circulating invitations and call for contributions 
June 30th, 2022  Abstracts due 
July 14th, 2022  Contributors assigned to one or two peers whose work has natural synergy, for review and feedback 
August 22nd, 2022  Contributors submit 2-3000 word paper for pre-circulation, including the structure that their chapter will be based on 
Thursday September 1st + Friday September 2nd , 2022  Symposium (hybrid model combining face to face attendance in Melbourne and online modes). Each contributor presents 10 minute provocation based on theme of paper to maximise exchange of ideas and usefulness of feedback   
October 2022  Editorial team to refine book proposal 
October 28th, 2022  Chapters due 
November 2022  Finalising book proposal and submitting to publisher 

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