Distraction Free Reading


In keeping with the 2013 AAA meeting theme of ‘Future Publics, Current Engagements,’ this double panel brings junior and senior scholars into dialogue in order to explore how current engagements with (bio)technologies shape attitudes, behaviors, and subjectivities, and thus affect—or have the potential to affect—future publics and future bodies in meaningful ways. This panel, which we intend to submit for Invited status, is being co-organized by the Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) special interest group of the Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) and the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing (CASTAC).

A number of senior scholars have agreed to contribute papers and serve as discussants on this panel. We are currently soliciting abstracts for 3-4 ‘open’ slots on the panel. While we encourage potential participants to think broadly – and critically – about this topic, preference will be given to abstracts that complement the interests of our senior scholars.

Panel topics might include:
• Genetic testing: How is the emergence of genetic testing technologies affecting public understanding and discourse about concepts of ‘race’ and ‘risk’ for disease? How does access to information about increased genetic risk for future disease(s) shape future bodies through identity, practice, and policy? As access to this technology becomes more widespread, how will consumer genetic testing products and whole genome sequencing (e.g., the $1000 Genome) affect individual behavior, as well as reproductive decision-making and parenting practices?

• E-health: How is the use of technology in e-health and telemedicine influencing the way patients and providers define and experience clinical interaction and the doctor-patient relationship? How does this technology shift notions of what constitutes successful consultation and efficient treatment?

• Robotics: How do we evaluate the spectrum of robotic technologies – from prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons to full-bodied robots designed both to provide care to and receive care from socially isolated individuals? How are these devices incorporated into the bodies and lives of the patients they are intended to serve?

• Pharmaceuticals: What kinds of bodies and publics are being shaped by long-term and concurrent pharmaceutical regimens (e.g., hormonal manipulation of reproductive-age women, post-menopausal women, and transgender youth)? What role do assumptions about bodies and publics play in the distribution and uptake of pharmaceutical technologies (e.g., ‘racialized’ pharmaceuticals, gender and heteronormativity play in STD vaccination)?

• Nanotechnology: How are nanotechnologies currently understood by the medical publics they are designed to serve? What are the deliberative processes through which these new technologies are socially incorporated and do perceptions of nanotechnology shift across national and/or cultural contexts?

Access to (bio)technologies is unevenly distributed across the kinds of differences with which anthropology is engaged. This panel examines at access in bidirectional terms, where technology is insisted upon the bodies of some and withheld from others. For example,
• How does unequal access to (bio)technologies (such as dialysis, contraception, or abortion) interpolate distinct future publics?
• How do the states of limited and excessive access to medical technologies and scientific knowledge contour the emerging bodies and futures of unevenly located individuals and groups?
• What lines are being drawn—and blurred—between “enhancement” and “medical” technologies? What are the frames of reference through which various publics distinguish between these two modes of (bio)technology?
• How will the Affordable Care Act impact the deployment of and access to medical technologies?

For consideration, please send abstracts (max. 250 words) to jjthomp@uga.edu, by February 22.

Jennifer Jo Thompson (University of Georgia)
Christine Labuski (Virginia Tech)
Tanja Ahlin (University of Amsterdam)
Allan Hanson (Kansas University)
Co-organizers of ‘Emergent Technologies, Future Publics’

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