CFP on Medical Tele-technology for AAA 2011

The following call for papers is being circulated by Vincent Duclos (U Montreal) and Victor Braitberg (U Arizona):

CFP for American Anthropological Association Meetings
Montreal, Quebec November 16-20 2011

Materializing Presence, Configuring Proximity:
Engagements with Medical Tele-Technology and Emergent Care Practices

Health care is being transformed by a proliferation of screens, interfaces and networks that constitute emerging infrastructures of care linking up bodies, affects, practices, experiences, and knowledge in new spatial and temporal configurations on a global scale. Instead of reinscribing well worn divisions between the “impersonal” machinic and the “personal” human, this panel engages emergent care practices and their co-creation with a wide range of technologies ranging from, but not limited to, electronic medical records and bar code scanners to medical videoconferencing and tele-robotic surgery systems. We believe that longstanding humanist commitments and concerns within the social sciences and humanities have limited the ability of scholars to grasp and appreciate the role of new technologies in health care beyond indicting them as instantiations of a mechanistic mind-body split that perniciously reduces the “social” to the biological, devitalizing agency, erasing authenticity, and silencing the self (Reiser 1979; Scheper Hughes and Lock 1987; Sharp 2006). Our approach to the nexus of the machine and the human in contemporary biomedicine is inspired by a mix of philosophers (Sloterdijk 2000; Stengers 2010, Bennett 2010), literary theorists (Gumbrecht 2004; Massumi 2002), historians (Lenoir 2002; Murphy 2006) social scientists (Mol, Moser and Pols 2010) who reject dichotomies (humans/machines, mind/matter, reason/passion etc.) and affirm instead the encompassment of subjects and objects, machines and humans through diverse media ecologies. In this respect, our panel showcases ethnographic and historical investigations that are alert to the manner in which emerging tele-technologies have made it possible to reconfigure the material and performative dimensions of medical expertise, practice, and care.

The questions animating this panel seek to ground medical expertise, care, and practice in the very materiality of networks and the digital modes of presence that these trigger. Tele-technology allows us to investigate how new global spaces are effectively being produced and experienced: in what contexts, through which means and to what effects. Questions of concern include, but are not limited to: How are relations between and across boundaries of patients, occupational groups, specialties, and institutional locales configured and negotiated through the utilization of tele-technologies? What forms of action and/or non-action, collectivization and/or individualization do these emerging configurations present? What do configurations of virtual and distance medicine disclose about the effects that tele-technologies are having upon the materialities of medical presence as these are instantiated in the skills, aesthetic and moral judgments, visions, physical dispositions, and affects that are aggregated under the rubrics of  “care” and “expertise”? To what extent are forms of presence enabled by emerging tele-technologies in health care an opportunity for the reawakening of a desire for presence in medical care, forms of agency, encounter, collaboration etc. that challenge or otherwise revise established medical infrastructures and organizational regimes?

We especially welcome abstracts from scholars in the social sciences and humanities who approach medical tele-technologies from cross-cultural and/or historical perspectives. Please send your abstract (250 words maximum) by March 10th, as an electronic attachment to ??Final decisions will be made by March 25th.  The deadline set by the American Anthropological Association for submitting the panel and all the abstracts is April 1st.