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Goldsmiths - University of London

Introduction to special issue of Body & Society, 'Medicine, Bodies, Politics: Experimentation and Emergence'

Michael, Mike and Rosengarten, Marsha. 2012. Introduction to special issue of Body & Society, 'Medicine, Bodies, Politics: Experimentation and Emergence'. Body & Society, pp. 1-17. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In this introduction, we address some of the complexities associated with the emergence of medicine’s bodies, not least as a means to ‘working with the body’ rather than simply producing a critique of medicine. We provide a brief review some of the recent discussions on how to conceive of medicine and its bodies, noting the increasing attention now given to medicine as a technology or series of technologies active in constituting a multiplicity of entities—bodies, diseases, experimental objects, the individualization of responsibility for health and even the precarity of life. We contrast what feminist theorists in the tradition of Judith Butler have referred to as the question of matter, and Science and Technology Studies with its focus on practice and the nature of emergence. As such we address tensions that exists in analyses of the ontological status of ‘the body’—human and non-human— as it is enacted in the work of the laboratory, the randomized controlled trial, public health policy and, indeed, the market that is so frequently entangled with these spaces. So, in keeping with the recent turns toward ontology and affect, we suggest that we can regard medicine as concerned with the contraction and re-configuration of the body’s capacities to affect and be affected, in order to allow for the subsequent proliferation of affects that, according to Bruno Latour, marks corporeal life. Treating both contraction and proliferation circumspectly, we focus on the patterns of affects wrought in particular by the abstractions of medicine that are described in the contributions to this special issue. Drawing on the work of A.N. Whitehead, we note how abstractions such as ‘medical evidence’, the ‘healthy human body’, or the ‘animal model’ are at once realized and undercut, mediated and resisted through the situated practices that eventuate medicine’s bodies. Along the way, we touch on the implications of this sort of perspective for addressing the distribution of agency and formulations of the ethical and the political in the medical eventuations of bodies.

Item Type: Article

Keywords:

Medicine, Bodies, Emergence, Whitehead, Experimentation, Politics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]

Dates:

DateEvent
2012["eprint_fieldopt_dates_date_type_inproduction" not defined]

Item ID:

7070

Date Deposited:

28 May 2012 15:05

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 12:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/7070

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