Technology, Culture, Education: The new body
This page was composed by Aaron Hung on the basis for the lectures notes as they were in the Summer 2008. I want to thank him for the work. I am making some changes for the Summer 2009. The notes on the main web site for the course will generally be more up to date.
Everyone is welcome to use and edit these pages, perhaps on the basis of your own notes (since sometimes I do not follow my own notes).
Link to Professor Varenne's notes for this course.
- Technology: possibility and determination?
- (Ethno-)Methodology for (de)constructing human production
- Human (dis-)abilities: expansions through tools and institutions
- Hoes, plows and familial strategies
- Irrigation: Power and social structure
- The power of the printed word
- Possibilities in print: Play and control
- Industrialization I: The imagination of the machines
- Industrialization II: The experience of machines
- Living with the bomb
- The body and the machine
- Further reading
- Rapp, Rayna Testing women, testing the fetus: The social impact of amniocenthesis in America. New York: Routledge, 1999 (Chapters 1,2,5,6,9)
- cyborgs: part real, part machine; are they real?
- other human-machine combinations: bluetooth headpieces, contact lenses, hearing aids, pacemakers
- people have started writing about cyborgs since the 1990s
- gave a few of the body that wasn't available before
- impacted abortion arguments, changing people's view about when life begins
- affects questions regarding when it might be ethical (if ever) to abort a fetus (e.g. for illness)
- technology gave people new knowledge about baby's development, including decisions regarding what to do in case of illness
- medical researchers detect genes that are linked to a specific trait
- world of people confronted by pregnant woman, including possibly parents, counselors, doctors, etc.
- Descartes infamous for arguing that we should separate our mind from our bodies
- believed that the only proof that you exist is that you think: "I think therefore I am" (Cogito, ergo sum)
- everybody thinks that we do not believe in this anymore, but this language still creeps into the language of modern scientists and engineers
- we are expected to treat the body (or parts of the body) as an object
- feminists argue against the distancing of body from soul during medical treatment
- as a patient, your status as a "human" might be gradually stripped away; you are disembodied
- you sign off your body to an institution
- contraction monitor takes the experience of labor contractions outside; everyone has access to those contractions
- a medical doctor giving birth loses that status when she is giving labor
- anthropologists used to be expected to be familiar with: culture, archaeology, biological development of humanity, and linguistics
- Latour closer to Boas than Geertz; interested in how tools (technologies) impact societies
- anthropologists today are more interested to make critical interpretations, postmodern and postcolonial studies
- Shirley Brice Heath continued to do ethnographies but moved to the humanities studies instead of anthropology
- Jean Lave moved to the department of geography
- geography focused more on human geographies (what people did in different parts of the world)
- Cotter: the more extensive the medical exam, the more there will be irrelevant chitchat and laughter; avoiding talk of the body part being studied
- what you cannot escape
- in your experience, you can be pregnant for weeks without noticing
- shift in status when you are labeled pregnant; who tells you what you can do (people will tell you to see a doctor)
- community of practice: your existence becomes caught in a certain world
- sonograms have become the next obligatory practice (e.g. family members who want pictures of the fetus)
- technology acts on the imagination
- cultural rules are arbitrary; can be used for good or bad
- shift in State's role in controlling female's bodies (allowing some forms of abortions)
- every reading of the test or image has a form and consequence
- what you do with a practice (e.g. distributing sonograms) cannot be understood only in terms of your culture
- community has to decide what comes of the practice
- those who suppose laws such as Roe vs. Wade still require the State to enforce it
- question of whether the State can limit a woman's access to information (e.g. sonograms) regarding their children
- Hardacre, H. (1999) Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan. University of California Press. ISBN 0520216547. Very similar to Rapp's book, plus interesting media and religious analysis.
- Jordan, B. (1978). Birth in four cultures: A crosscultural investigation of childbirth in Yucatan, Holland, Sweden, and the United States. Montreal: Eden Press Women's Publications. ISBN 088133717X
- Leroi, A. M. (2005) Mutants: On genetic variety and the human body. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 0142004820