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Biomedicine in museums

Somatechnics — the technologisation of bodies and selves (Sydney, April 2009)

If you are interested in discursive techniques and practices for the formation and transfomation of bodies you may want to attend the Fifth International Somatechnics Conference which will be held in Sydney 16-18 April 2009 under the title ‘The Technologisation of Bodies and Selves’. So what does ‘somatechnics’ stand for?

“Somatechnics” is a recently coined term used to highlight the inextricability of soma and techné, of the body (as a culturally intelligible construct) and the techniques (dispositifs and ‘hard technologies’) in and through which bodies are formed and transformed. This term, then, supplants the logic of the ‘and’, indicating that technés are not something we add to or apply to the body, but rather, are the means in and through which bodies are constituted, positioned, and lived. As such, the term reflects contemporary understandings of the body as the incarnation or materialization of historically and culturally specific discourses and practices.

(Cannot become much more discursive, can it?). Keynote speakers include Claudia Castaneda (Brandeis University), Nichola Rumsey (University of the West of England) and Jennifer Terry (University of California, Irvine), and possible paper topics include:

  • somatechnologies of the self (‘non-mainstream’ body modification, body sculpting, performance, fashion, drug use, ‘self-mutilation’, religious practice, etc)
  • medical somatechnologies (cosmetic, reproductive, imaging, corrective, sex (re)assignment, implantation, enhancement, bio-techs, public health initiatives, etc)
  • somatechnics of law
  • somatechnologies of gender, sexuality, race, class, etc
  • somatechnologies of normalcy and pathology
  • somatechnics of war
  • somatechnologies of the post-human (cyborgs, nanotechnology, virtuality, etc)
  • soma-ethics

Deadline for 300-500 words abstracts and proposals for panels and performance pieces (wow!) is 30 November 2007. Further information from Nikki Sullivan, and (or visit the Somatechnics Research Centre website)

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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