Accepted Paper:

Prosthesis, Enhancement and Wounding: The 'Productive Body' in the 21st Century  

Authors:

Brian Bloomfield (Lancaster University)
Karen Dale (Lancaster University)

Paper short abstract:

Bringing together the themes of prosthesis, enhancement/wounding, systems of production and the productive body, this paper explores the question of what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Paper long abstract:

The notion that humans have always been a product of their technics (Stiegler, 1998), that technological prostheses are supplements that constitute us as human, renders problematic any hard and fast distinction between the 'human' and the 'posthuman' (Braidotti, 2013; Wolfe, 2010). The terms are mutually constitutive, one cannot be extracted from the other without remainder. But if the notion of prosthesis is central to our understanding of the human/posthuman subject it can, as Jain (1999) reminds us, be associated just as much with 'wounding' as with enhancement; whether this be the body constituted as deficient or lacking in the light of technological enhancement; or more literally if one considers the negative consequences of the systems of production into which working bodies become integrated. Indeed, there is always a socio-political context to the technological remaking of the human, the scientific imaginaries of human enhancement are not random but take material form in respect of what is socially valued (Hogle, 2005). For example, abolition of the need for sleep offers the prospect of employees who might be ceaselessly productive. The demands of economic production, revolutionised through new technological systems, have long impacted human embodiment through efforts to harness the capabilities of the 'productive body' (Guéry & Deleule, 2014), with the consequent blurring of the presumed boundary between the biological and the social (Alaimo, 2010). By bringing together the themes of prosthesis, enhancement/wounding, systems of production and the productive body, this paper thereby explores the question of what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Panel T110
What does it mean to be Human in the 21st Century?