Future(s) with/of the human body

Jeanette Edwards (University of Manchester)
Shirin Garmaroudi Naef (University of Zurich)
Marilyn Strathern (University of Cambridge)
Jeanette Edwards (University of Manchester)
Hall 3
Start time:
15 May, 2014 at 13:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel will focus on technologies of bodily enhancement and their social reverberations.

Long abstract:

The theme of the joint IUAES/JASCA conference provides a timely opportunity to explore, anthropologically, the present and future of the human body. We are interested in technologies of bodily enhancement and their social reverberations: in elective biomedical and biotechnological interventions on human bodies which may rely, experimentally, on the bodies of non-human animals. Such interventions include, but are not confined to, assisted reproductive technologies, plastic/cosmetic surgery, performance enhancing drugs and anti-ageing interventions. Such interventions are often couched in the promises of 'more' and 'better': more beautiful, more fulfilled, more intelligent, faster, better memory, better life and so on: more, that is, than is required for the maintenance of individual health and human flourishing. However, it is not easy to maintain the boundary between therapeutic and 'merely' enhancement technology, and policing such a boundary is both a moral and ethical intervention; as is drawing attention to the way in which the impetus for 'more' and 'better' bodies, human capacities and abilities is growing in a global context where many people have 'not enough' (health care, shelter, security, readily available clean water etc.). We invite papers that present ethnographic examples of technologies of bodily enhancement in the present, as well as reflections on their future trajectories or historical precedents. We also welcome philosophical and theoretical contributions that help us think through concepts such as augmentation and enhancement, as well as the promissory or dystopia of the post or trans-human, or shifting senses of the 'good life' and 'life itself'.