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P123
Bettering oneself: enhancing bodies and subjectivities through biotechnologies of the self
Convenors:
Maria Concetta Lo Bosco (Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon)
Kira Schmidt Stiedenroth
Mujibul Anam (Jahangirnagar University)
Discussant:
Francesca De Luca (Universidade de Lisboa)
Format:
Panels
Time zone:
UTC+1
Sessions:
Thursday 23 July, 8:30-10:15, 11:00-12:45

Short abstract:

Self-improvement procedures, like performance drugs, hormonal enhancement, plastic surgery and body-hacking practices, are booming and proliferating across the world. This panel addresses the various forms and contexts under which self-enhancement projects take place.

Long abstract:

Self-improvement procedures, like performance drugs, hormonal enhancement, plastic surgery and body-hacking practices, are booming and proliferating across the world. Enhancement biotechnologies are cheaper, less invasive, more accessible and affordable than ever. As neoliberal politics are increasingly characterized by the individualization of responsibility for social mobility, self-realization, and labour productivity, interventions of self-improvement become not only desired but also necessary. The democratization of 'wish-fulfilling medicine' is exported globally as a will to improve and aspiration to become healthier, younger, longer-lived and altogether 'better' subjects. This panel addresses the various forms and contexts under which biotechnologies of self-enhancement operate. In particular, we are interested in the productive tension emanating from the growing availability of self-improvement practices and their potential to re-shuffle or exacerbate existing inequalities, the promotion of biotechnologies of the self as an individual right, and the socio-economic conditions that make self-improvement through biotechnologies desired or necessary in the first place. Our aim is to open a reflection on enhancement practices and subjectivities within shifting economic and socio-historical contexts, asking: what aspirations underlie biological self-making through enhancement technologies? What are the logics, limits and foresight of body manipulations? Can these practices endorse or challenge analytical concepts of humanity and post-humanity in social sciences? We encourage papers that address enhancement biotechnologies as practices of self-making, gendered self-construction projects through body modification, transnational geographies of biotechnologies of enhancement and their markets, body-hacking practices and bio-hacking advocacy for universal access to biotechnologies.