Accepted paper:

Medical borderlands: engineering the body with plastic surgery and sex hormones in Brazil


Alexander Edmonds (University of Edinburgh)
Emilia Sanabria (Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil, this paper explores experimental medical and social uses of sex hormones and plastic surgery.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores medical borderlands where health and enhancement practices are entangled. It draws on fieldwork in Brazil on plastic surgery and sex hormone therapies. These two therapies have significant clinical overlap. Both are made available in private and public healthcare in ways that reveal class dynamics underlying Brazilian medicine. They also have an important experimental dimension we link to Brazil's regulatory context and societal expectations placed on medicine as a means for managing women's reproductive and sexual health. Off-label and experimental medical use of these technologies is linked to experimental social use: how women adopt them to respond to pressures, anxieties and aspirations arising in work and intimate life. The paper argues that experimental use of sex hormones and plastic surgery is becoming morally authorized as routine management of women's health, integrated into mainstream Ob-Gyn health care, and subtly blurred with practices of cuidar-se (self-care) seen in Brazil as essential for modern femininity.

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Being, being human, and becoming beyond human