Bioethics Blogs

“Estranged Bodies: Shifting Paradigms and the Biomedical Imaginary” – Special Issue of Body & Society by Anna Zogas

In addition to what’s “In the Journals” so far, and the inaugural issue of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, September brings us a special issue of Body & Society edited by Margrit Shildrick and Deborah Lynn Steinberg. “Estranged Bodies: Shifting Paradigms and the Biomedical Imaginary” includes articles on human organ transplantation, psychiatry, amputation and war, and a media ecology of cancer, which together explore biomedical governance, estrangement, dissolution, assemblage, and feminist politics. Enjoy!

Estranged Bodies: Shifting Paradigms and the Biomedical Imaginary
Margrit Shildrick and Deborah Lynn Steinberg

This introductory article provides a contextual and theoretical overview to this special issue of Body & Society. The special issue presents five selected case studies – focusing on the contexts of transplantation, psychiatry, amputation and war, and a transvalued media ecology of cancer – to offer meditations on a number of interlinked questions. The first of these is the entanglement of biomedical governance – political/economic as well as self-disciplinary – with the nexus of estrangement, which can denote both the distancing of otherness and self-division. Second is the realm of feeling, of phantasmatic projection and of the ways in which the biopolitical becomes reciprocally, discursively, enmeshed in a wider cultural imaginary. Third is the shifting terrain of gender and feminist politics, a key dimension of which is the necessary reworking of feminist thought in the wake of a radically altered biomedical and biotechnological landscape. Under the rubric of Estranged Bodies, the collection considers themes of dissolution and the fragility of the body/subject read through bodily catastrophe, radical body modification and extreme medical intervention. Also considered is the notion of assemblage – the provisional coming together of disparate parts – which encourages a rethinking of questions of reconstituted, displaced and re-placed bodies.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.