Call for papers
EASA Medical Anthropology Conference, 5-7 July, Lisbon, Portugal
Panel 01: Emergent Deployments of the Body
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Free University Berlin
EPFL/ University of Geneva
Emergent Deployments of the Body
Today, the ways in which the body is deployed for survival are constantly changing. Such transformations are triggered and/or reinforced by, but not limited to, state-policies, religion, politics, social and economic changes and biomedicine. Daily we are confronted with emergent and novel fashions of the use and abuse of bodies.
Social science research focusing on exploitation and commodification of the body over the past few decades has shown that it can take many different, changing forms. Contemporary forms of slavery and prostitution (Kopytoff 1982; Sharp 2000), for example, are in today’s world being transformed through systematic human trafficking in the growing global economy of bodies for sale (Scheper-Hughes 1996; Comaroff and Comaroff 1999; Wilkinson 2003). The development of modern medicine has also created a need – and thus a market – for bodies, organs, and tissues, not only for training and research purposes (Hogle 1999), but also for profit and income generation for daily survival. The issues of organ donation, sale, and transplantation, as well as paid surrogacy and the ways in which female bodies are exploited as objects for sale or rent (Petchesky 1995), have raised many ethical dilemmas and received significant attention over the past few decades within anthropological research (cf. Ketchum 1989; Gostin 1990; Ragoné 1996). Practices such as the organ trade and paid surrogacy evoke concerns about the use and abuse of the bodies of the poor and disfranchised (Sharp 2000).
However, the body has become a physical landscape not only for exploitation, but also a medium to restore social roles, to survive structural violence and marginalization, and to provide empowerment and agency to the destitute.
This panel seeks to shed light on unexplored emergent patterns of the deployment of the body, shaped by local or global conditions, and attendant transformations connected to them – that are taking place as strategies for, but not only, social and economic survival. The focus is on, but not limited to, practices that alter our perceptions, imaginations, meanings of the body and challenge taken for granted norms of self-perception, position in the family and the community as well as identity and social relations.