Biomedicine in museums

Moral aesthetics and moral constraints in representing and replacing bodies

By September 11, 2011 No Comments

A month ago, we submitted a grant application for a new major exhibition about human remains here at Medical Museion. And now we are looking for new interesting approaches to the display of such contested artefacts.

A damaged San Sebastian, Medical Museion, 2009

Besides the mere aesthetic fascination in these kinds of artefacts: what interesting conceptual approaches can we take to the topic?

Shall we play on the preservation of human remains in the classical age of anatomy vs. the new age of biobanks? Or on the relation between preserved human remains vs. their buried counterparts? Or on the parts of the body that are taken out and turned into artefacts vs. non-living artefacts that are inserted into the body?

There are plenty of possibilities, and historians of medicine, science study scholars, anthropologists  and so forth can provide a number of analytical perspectives to help make such an exhibition more interesting.

Which means that we are very interested in what anthropologists Lesley Sharp and Janelle Taylor have to say in a seminar titled ‘Representing and replacing bodies’ that our joint Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies (CMeST) organises together with the Dept of Anthropology on Friday 23 September, 10.30am-noon.

Lesley Sharp will speak about ‘Virtuous Science and its Moral Constraints in Experimental Organ Replacement: An Anthropological Assessment’ and Janelle Taylor about ‘Romancing the Real: Moral Aesthetics in Medical Education and Research’. The seminar takes place in room 10.0.11 in the CSS-building complex on Øster Farimagsgade 5, Copenhagen.

Later in the day, Lesley, Janelle and a handful of of CMeST-people will meet here at Medical Museion for an informal discussion about possible conceptual approaches to the planned human remans exhibition. I’ll be back with more thoughts about this later.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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