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Biomedicine in museums

Observing the others, watching over oneself

The paper that Susanne and Jan Eric (who are both working in our ‘Biomedicine on Display’ project) presented at the third Surveillance & Society conference in Sheffield in April 2008 (see earlier blog post here) has just been published in the journal Surveillance & Society (vol. 6, 2009). Here’s the abstract:

This article explores two instances of medical surveillance that illustrate post-panoptic views of the body in biomedicine, from the patient to the population. Techniques of surveillance and monitoring are part of medical diagnostics, epidemiological studies, aetiologic research, health care management; they also co-shape individual engagements with illness. In medicine, surveillance data come as digital anatomies for educational purposes and clinical diagnostics that subject the body to imaging techniques, but also as databases of patient collectives that are established in large-scale, at times nationwide, epidemiological studies. We will show that techniques of medical surveillance now include more bottom-up and less-centralized modes as well: with web 2.0 applications, one encounters endoscopic clips uploaded and made public on the internet and tools to navigate through patterns of sickness in urban space. Surveillance techniques directed at individual patients and at population health reconfigure the constellation of the body, space and the gaze into a post-panoptic distributed mode.

Read the full paper online here.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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