Reviewed by: Society for Medical Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Technology
Secondary Theme: Health
Taking the 10th anniversary of the website Somatosphere as its impetus, this roundtable asks whether – and how – the anthropology of medicine has changed in relation to the relatively recent emergence of a range of digital information and communication technologies. We bring together a group of scholars who have been active users or producers of new media technologies to discuss the challenges and opportunities offered by these new forms of media, alongside anthropologists interested in digital media and its social effects. This roundtable discussion will address a range of key questions through creative engagements with scholarly experience, research in and out of the field, and the contemporary digital publishing landscape.
Specific issues panelists may address concern the multiple relationships that make up the anthropology of medicine as a network or assemblage: Have digital technologies allowed for scholarly conversations in medical anthropology to include a broader range of voices, identifications, and subject-positions, and if so, how? Have they facilitated interactions between scholars across greater geographical, political economic, infrastructural, linguistic, and social distances? Have these technologies changed the relationships between medical anthropologists and the interlocutors or collaborators we work with? What are the challenges and opportunities for engaging with non-specialist and popular audiences under such new conditions? Have they changed the relationship between research, intervention, and politics or the ways scholars engage in these projects? More specifically, how have understandings of ‘public anthropology’ changed in the context of epidemic disease and other emergent public health concerns?
Beyond these questions of audience and engagements, there are also those provoked by digital media that force us toward new reflexitivies and technologies of the self. How have fieldwork and publishing changed as a result of engagements with digital media? Have these conditions altered the kinds of questions we ask, as well as the ways we organize and carry out our research? How are medical anthropologists themselves changing through their digital mediations?
Overall, this roundtable raises the question of how a range of techno-social infrastructures – and the potentialities they afford – are both changing (and being changed by) our problem spaces, our audiences, and the ways we conduct research, scholarship, and intervention.