Accepted Paper:

Bodies, structure of feeling and experience: opportunities for new assemblages at the Spanish intersex clinic  


Rosa Medina-Doménech (University of Granada)
Sandra Fernández Garrido (University of Granada)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explore the possibilities of new assemblages in the intersex clinic. We analyze how structures of feeling, corporal experiences, bodies and knowledges are mutually shaped. The analysis focuses on current spanish context, where subaltern knowledges are finding new spaces for legitimacy.

Paper long abstract:

The intersex clinic can be understood as an assemblage (Deleuze y Guattari, 1988 ; Verran, 2009) in which knowledge, experiences and bodies are mutually shaped in precarious and open ways. In this assemblage, feelings, body experiences --more o less mediated by languages--, understandings and decisions take place inside the intersecting fields of scientific theories, everyday clinical practices --shaped by diverse knowledges--, divergent voices and embodied technologies of the self..

In this paper we analyze how the intersex clinics in Spain operate as a medical dispositif located inside the National Health Service to treat people diagnosed as "Disorders of Sexual Development". Using ethnography, we explore how the emotional and body experiences (of professionals, patients, and caregivers) shape the definition of these patients' embodied sex and determine the consequent therapeutic itineraries. We will explore what Williams called "structures of feeling or experience", that is, spaces, dynamics or non-formalized experiences from which new ways of thinking can emerge. We argue that in the intersex clinic these structures are bound to unarticulated fragments of personal experiences -even those of professionals-- and that they contribute to shaping clinical decisions. These "structures of feeling" could help to re-articulate the elements encompassed in the assemblage of clinic.

Currently, Spain provides a key case-study to explore. The social shift propitiated by the election of so-called "governments of change" in the May 2015 elections could bring legitimation to subaltern knowledges developed outside medical hegemony. What new assemblages around intersexuality could emerge from these changes?

Panel T111
Body, Science and Expertise