Accepted Paper:

Reconceiving the Body: Embryo Imaging, Professional and Lay Visions  

Author:

Manuela Perrotta (Queen Mary University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Exploring the case of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) imaging technologies, the paper investigates how the production of biomedical images, their diffusion and the development of professional and lay visions are involved in changing conceptions of the human body.

Paper long abstract:

The development and diffusion of Biomedical Imaging Technologies (BITs) allows medical professionals to explore the human body in new ways, as BITs transform the inner body into an array of images. As the literature on the development and stabilization of BITs has illustrated, biomedical images are situated, contingent, mediated, and strategically framed representations of the body. To produce reliable images through visual tools, biomedical staff need to develop a professional vision: a process involving learning, practising, and training eyes through direct experience. These images are used in communication with patients and then travel throughout the social world contributing to a changing understanding of what the body is and how it works.

This contribution stems from a research project that investigates the case of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) imaging technologies, which allows professionals and patients to see embryos at a very early stage. Exploring the case of IVF, this project investigates the production of biomedical images at the interface of scientific, organizational and social practices.

The paper explores how the production of these images, their diffusion and the development of professional and visions are involved in changing conceptions of the human body. The case allows for an examination of how new meanings emerge (for instance, how the visualization of embryos changes the experience of pregnancy, bringing it forward to an earlier point, and transforms the social understanding of the pregnant body) and how these images mediate the creation of knowledge about the body and its understanding.

Panel T111
Body, Science and Expertise