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Professor Luna Dolezal

Professor in Philosophy and Medical Humanities


01392 723860

I am Professor of Philosophy and Medical Humanities. I am Co-Director of the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health leading on EDI and Research Culture.

I am based in both Philosophy and History, where I contribute to medical humanities.

My research is primarily in the areas of applied phenomenology, philosophy of embodiment, philosophy of medicine and medical humanities. My work is driven by an interest in understanding lived experience and embodiment, and how these intersect with, are co-determined by, the socio-political and technological frameworks in which we are enmeshed.

My current research is primarily focused on three inter-related themes: (1) shame and self-conscious emotions; (2) embodiment and self-other relations; and (3) emerging medical and body-based technologies. 

At present, I am the PI on the Shame and Medicine project (Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award, 2020-2025) and a co-I on the Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures project (Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award, 2020-2024). I was also PI on the UKRI-AHRC Covid Rapid Response project Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 (2020-2022).

I have recently co-authored a book with Fred Cooper and Arthur Rose, COVID-19 and Shame: Political Emotions and Public Health in the UK (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023). This book led to the Shame and the Pandemic podcast series, produced by Volume. 

I have recently collaborated with The Nocturnists to co-create an award-winning 10-part audio documentary series Shame in Medicine: The Lost Forest.

I am a co-founder with Will Bynum of The Shame Space, a global consortium to advance awareness of shame in heathcare, and The Shame Lab, a collaboration between the Univeristy of Exeter and Duke Univeristy that advances training, research and engagement around 'shame competence'. Through The Shame Lab, I have developed and deliver trianing in shame competence to professionals (including police, healthcare workers, community workers and others).  

My publications can be accessed through

Before joining Exeter, I was based between the Department of Philosophy at Durham University and the Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity College Dublin on an Irish Research Council/Marie Curie fellowship. I received my PhD in Philosophy from University College Dublin. My other academic qualifications include: an MA in Continental Philosophy (University College Dublin) a Graduate Diploma in Literary Theory (Universidade de Lisboa) and a BSc in Physics and Philosophy (University of New South Wales).


Research interests

My research is primarily in the areas of applied phenomenology, philosophy of embodiment, philosophy of medicine and medical humanities (especially through philosophy and literature). I broadly work within continental philosophy, literary theory and feminist theory.

My monograph, The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped Body (Lexington Books, 2015), considers philosophical conceptions of embodied subjectivity through the work of the phenomenological thinkers Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, while engaging with feminist and medical scholarship on cosmetic surgery. This book explores how shame plays a key role in the social shaping of the body and the formation of subjectivity, using shame as a conceptual means to reconcile the phenomenological and scoial constructionist accounts of embodied subjectivity. In this work, I use feminist accounts of shame and the case study of cosmetic surgery to demonstrate how the human body can literally be shaped by shame.

I have co-authored a book with Fred Cooper and Arthur Rose, COVID-19 and Shame: Political Emotions and Public Health in the UK (Bloomsbury Academic, 2023).

I am also working on a book project, The Politics of Chronic Shame, which explores the social and political dimensions of chronic shame with a focus on critical phenomenology.

I am the PI of the Shame and Medicine project, funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award. This project is a collaboration with Dr Barry Lyons (Children's Health, Ireland) and Dr Matthew Gibson (University of Birmingham) and is an engagement between medical practitioners, social scientists, philosophers and medical humanities scholars seeking to investigate the role of shame in the context of health, medicine and medical practice. 

I was the PI of the Scenes of Shame and Stigma in COVID-19 project which is funded by a UKRI-AHRC Covid Rapid Response Award. This project was a collaboration with Dr Arthur Rose and Dr Fred Cooper and investigated the sites and cirucumstances of shame, shaming, stigma and discrimination in the UK during the first 12 months (January-December 2020) of the COVID-19 health crisis.  

I am a co-I on Professor Stuart Murray's project Imagining Technology for Disability Futures which is based at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, Dundee and Exeter and has been funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award.

I am on the Steering Committee of the Nordic Network for Gender, Body and Health and have just finished collaborating on a 2-year project with the Network, funded by NOS-HS, called "The Embodied Self, Health and Emerging Technologies: Implications for Gender and Identity." We have recently recieved funding for a new project "The Somatechnics of Death in Life" (2023-2024).

My publications can be accessed through my page.




Research supervision

I am open to discussing research proposals for postgraduate study on a variety of subjects related to my research expertise.


I teach Phenomenology (PHL2001/3001) and Existentialism (PHL2002/3002). I contribute to the MA module Introduction to Philosophical Methods (PHLM010). I also contribute to the Liberal Arts module Being Human in the Modern World (LIB1105).

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