© 2018


Communicating Pain

  • EJ Gonzalez-Polledo
  • Jen Tarr


  • Brings together interdisciplinary contributions from the social sciences, humanities visual and performing arts

  • Posits that pain is not just a sensation inside the body or limited to one individual but is an experience that is expressed and emergent via different frameworks and devices of communication

  • Examines how chronic pain is expressed and communicated


Table of contents

About this book


This book brings into dialogue approaches from anthropology, sociology, visual art, theatre, and literature to question what kinds of relations, frames and politics constitute pain across disciplines and methodologies. Each chapter offers a unique window onto the notoriously difficult problem of how pain is defined and communicated. The contributors reimagine the value of images and photography, poetry, history, drama, stories and interviews, not as ‘better’ representations of the pain experience, but as devices to navigate the complexity of pain across different physical, social, and intersubjective domains. 

This innovative collection provides a new access point to the phenomenon of pain and the materialities, affects, structures and institutions that constitute it. This book will appeal to readers seeking to better understand pain’s complexity and the social and affective ecologies through which pain is known, communicated and lived.


Science Communication S. Weir Mitchell The Language of Pain chronic pain autoimmune diseases and pain autopoiesis photographing pain stigmatization of mental illness Pain and the Internet The Adjoin project face2face pain project pain management

Editors and affiliations

  • EJ Gonzalez-Polledo
    • 1
  • Jen Tarr
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUnited Kingdom

About the editors

EJ Gonzalez-Polledo is Lecturer in the department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK.

Jen Tarr is Assistant Professor of Research Methodology in the Department of Methodology at the LSE, UK.

Bibliographic information


“An explosion of interest in embodiment by social science and humanities scholars since the 1990's has precipitated sophisticated conceptual understandings of  the social, philosophical and emotional dimensions of pain alongside the physiological and clinical aspects, as elucidated in Dame Cicely Saunders  notion of ‘total pain.’ Painscapes provides a wonderful example of how researchers and practitioners can be meaningfully incorporate the  ‘lived experience’ of pain in its multi-layered complexity to provide illuminating insights. By translating knowledge and experience across multi- disciplinary creative pathways and communication through visual and narrative techniques and communications,the  often solitary incarceration of enduring pain may be challenged and vividly articulated.” (Gillian Bendelow, Professor in Sociology of Health and Medicine, University of Brighton, UK)