‘Waiting Times’ is a new research project that is being funded between 2017 and 2022 by a Wellcome Collaborative Award in Medical Humanities. The project is led by Dr Lisa Baraitser  (Birkbeck, University of London, Psychosocial Studies) and Prof Laura Salisbury (University of Exeter, English) and is co-located in London and Exeter.

Hopsital-Waiting-RoomThe project brings together an interdisciplinary team to investigate waiting as a cultural and psychosocial concept, and an embodied and historical experience, in order to understand the temporalities of healthcare. It aims to produce a fundamental rethinking of the relation between time and care through a critical analysis of waiting in the modern period. Working across Medical Humanities and Psychosocial Studies, the project uncovers the history, cultural representation, and psychosocial organisation of delayed and impeded time, from 1860 to the present. This work will underpin focused investigations of ‘watchful waiting’ in current general practice, psychotherapy, and end of life care. We ask which models of time operate within healthcare practices and develop new models of durational temporality to conceptualise how waiting can operate as a form of careful attention, historically and in the present. Contextualising these healthcare practices within broader social organisations of time, we open up the meanings, potentialities, and difficulties of waiting in current times. Through academic publications and extensive public engagement, we will reframe debates about waiting in and for healthcare, moving beyond the urgent need to reduce waiting times in the NHS, towards a more comprehensive understanding of the relation between waiting, care, and changing experiences of time.

The project builds on work funded in 2015-16 by a Wellcome Seed Award  and a Birkbeck ISSF Award.