Call for Papers: Post-human Embodiment and Unstable Media: Collaborative Engagements in Explaining Illness
AAA Panel Organizers:
DEADLINE for SUBMISSON: March 12, 2013
Representations of illness and human embodiment are experiencing a profound technological change owing to the rapid advancement of new biotechnologies and vanguard treatment techniques that offer the promise of miracle cures, enhanced anatomies, increased longevity, and a general sense of well?being. Such experiences from the patient’s point of view have traditionally been recorded as illness narratives in the form of printed media, as taken from ethnography or autobiography. Yet given the proliferation of the Internet, anyone can post a blog, image, audio or video account of their illness journey and anonymously engage with the world. With the emergence of new media, from websites, online videos, and blogs, to immersive realities, electronic texts, and digital music, illness narratives have become both virtual and transmedial, presenting a curious dual nature that is at once generative and destructive. We argue that while these “transmedial narratives” are generative, in that they may function as a creative means for expressing and sometimes transcending one’s health tribulations, they can also simultaneously be destructive, prohibitive and mimetic, in that they can reify stereotypes of illness or engage look?alike sites, which dilute the discourse.
Our panel investigates the paradoxes and ambiguities of post?human embodiment in unstable media, highlighting illness experiences which intentionally complicate and perpetuate ideal? types about the “body” that are not immediately apparent to the viewer/reader/audience, prompting the following questions. How does the dual nature of the digital augment or diminish both the embodiment and the experience of serious illness as expressed simultaneously across the sense modalities, in both creative and social media? How do digital experiences of illness, with their continuous iterations, remixes and mashups, reflect the unstable conditions of the media in which they are rendered? How do these representations of illness, as virtual modes of being and as multiple references to identity, cope with the loss of the analog and the increased distance from the original? And finally, what does it mean to present an illness in real time to an unknown audience whose commentary may be an appraisal of one’s illness performance across multiple venues? By questioning the popular constructions of illness on the net, we move closer to understanding the significance of a “digital humanity.”
As anthropologists we consider that transmedia narratives represent various types of collaborative engagement across multiple modes of media (text, audio, video). Thus the internet provides an opportunity to investigate beyond traditional binary interactions and develop a means for understanding how people represent themselves, and their illness experiences in the digital realm. These transmedial narratives also create a multimodal communication in that audiences can directly engage in feedback discussions with their subjects, creating a condition of constant update, a feature specific to digital media, expanding the role of anthropologists beyond participant observers to continuous observers.
Presenters on this panel may explore a variety of illness narratives and/or health issues as mediated through digital technologies in areas such as: disaster studies, mental illness, violence & war, trauma studies, and chronic disease.
Please submit an abstract of 250 words (not including title) to be considered for this panel. Include your name, affiliation, and AAA membership status at the top of the page. Send your abstract and information to Jerome (email@example.com) and Erica (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 12. This earlier date allows us to finalize the panel before submissions are due to the AAA. Feel free to email one or both of us in advance of the deadline with any questions you may have. All participants will need to be registered with the AAA before the April deadline. Memberships can be refunded if AAA does not accept a panel/paper.
Posted on: Friday, March 1st, 2013