Sense and sensitivity: measuring, prostheses and body enhancement after the Great War
Sabine Kienitz (Universität Hamburg)
Paper short abstract:
This paper focuses on the question of databased knowledge about the human body as a technical system, which was developed after the Great War to improve the lives of war invalids and later on also dismembered civilians, reconstructing sensitivity and providing them with prostheses.
Paper long abstract:
Collecting data on the mental and particularly on the bodily status of the war disabled was a major challenge for orthopedist (military) surgeons, psychologists, engineers and the new academic profession of orthopedists after the Great War: About 2,7 million men only in the German Weimar Republic had lost parts of their bodies in this war, which had to be restored mainly by prostheses to get those men back into working and family life and - as a consequence of the desolate social security situation - to regain them as taxpayers. The idea of reconstructing bodies by prostheses included the problem of measuring, analyzing patterns and recomposing the body as a technical apparatus. The paper will discuss these ideas and technical processes of body enhancement by prosthetic extending: What perspectives did the experts come up with, and how did the aggrieved war invalids meet those requirements?
The utopia of the better self: self-documentation and data practices in everyday (virtual) life