The evolution of bionic bodies, devices and their social worlds

Morlacchi, Piera (2016) The evolution of bionic bodies, devices and their social worlds. In: EASST/4S2016: Joint Conference of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) and Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), Aug 31 - Sep 3 2016, Barcelona, Spain.

Full text not available from this repository.


This paper examines the evolution of key embodiments and representations of the 'bionic man' and its body parts to discuss the dynamics of the social worlds and the political economy of medical devices.

The long and challenging journey of how to build body parts and devices at the interfaces of bodies, machines, animals and computers - such as prosthetics, implants and artificial organs - to repair, replace and enhance damaged parts of the human body and the full bionic man has received so far limited investigation. Medical devices that initially were considered controversial are now fully accepted and integrated in our bodies and everyday lives, mostly black boxed and taken for granted (e.g. pacemakers and artificial hearts). However, the convergence of info-, bio- and nano-technologies is creating complex configurations of bodies, new and old devices, and data that deserve attention and should be unpacked, as well as the dynamics of their social worlds examined.

In this paper I analyse key embodiments and representations of the bionic man using historical, archival and visual methods. These artefacts are useful sites to study the evolution of temporary actualizations and materializations of medical devices, their social worlds and political economy. This paper contributes to advancing a critical discussion of the ethical, social and legal dimensions and implications of the evolution of smart health technologies and complex configurations of bodies, devices and data.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Conference theme: Science and technology by other means – exploring collectives, spaces and futures
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Business and Management
University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Stacey Goldup
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 15:32
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2016 15:32
📧 Request an update