P16
Metamorphoses: states of bodily transformation

Convenors:
Elizabeth Hallam (University of Oxford)
Tamara Kohn (University of Melbourne)
Location:
Napier 209
Start time:
12 December, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel explores metamorphoses, asking how human bodies are undergoing transformations in relation to other animals, plants, microorganisms and machines within a range of environments. It asks too how such transformations are caught up in state systems and devices.

Long abstract:

Taking inspiration from Kafka, in whose 1915 short story 'Metamorphosis' the central character transforms from human to gigantic insect, and whose writing elsewhere critically examines effects of the state, especially of bureaucracies, this panel explores states of bodily transformation in contemporary life. In what ways are human bodies undergoing transformations in relation to other animals, plants, microorganisms and machines within a range of environments? Furthermore, how are such transformations enabled or impeded by state systems and devices? Disrupting distinctions between human and non-human, bodily metamorphoses happen across the life course, before birth and after death. They are diverse and involve, for instance, developments in biomedical technologies, the design of smart materials, food production, recycling and robotics. How are such transformations currently experienced and communicated through, for example, words and visual images? 2000 years after the death of Ovid - whose epic poem 'Metamorphoses' probes the intensities of love and violence while charting the creation of the world - we ask how metamorphoses are now brought into being, and variously desired, produced, endured or inflicted. How are power relations revealed and critiqued through these transformations, and what are their subjective, social and economic implications? The panel seeks to explore these dynamic processes, and asks how anthropologists can most effectively analyze and represent them. We invite papers from any field of anthropology to explore bodily transformations as broadly as possible, and encourage presentations that may incorporate text, film, drawing, sound and photography.