Oral Presentation Session - Invited Status Awarded
Invited by: Society for Psychological 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
This panel examines the intersections and conflicts between psychological anthropology and science and technology studies (STS) to develop new ethnographic explorations of subjectivity and its historical, spatial, and material contexts. Psychological anthropology’s longstanding strengths in analyzing the interpersonal and discursive construction of self-making projects often neglect the implications of non-human materialities, landscapes, and politics for the self. Conversely, STS’ dominant frameworks elucidate connections and networks of human and non-human actants but flatten intrapsychic and phenomenological processes in the process. This panel calls for ethnographic analyses of how subjectivity becomes more than human that neither privilege liberal frameworks of the self nor reduce the human to a node in a network of information and objects. Bridging new perspectives in psychological anthropology and STS, this panel approaches a material and technological construction of the subject without reifying models of bounded personhood. Collectively, the papers focus on the role of affective and material environments and landscapes in forming historically contingent subjectivities.
This panel brings together ethnographic studies to investigate the overlap between STS and psychological anthropology. How do material objects become technologies and extensions of the self (D’Arcy, Praspaliauskiene, Tran)? How do culturally distinct boundaries of selfhood facilitate or limit the global spread of new forms of technology? How do technologies enable or foreclose intersubjective entanglements (D’Arcy, Praspaliauskiene)? How do therapeutic, legal, and financial ideals of personhood and their associated technologies construct or undermine political economic and bureaucratic regimes of the self (Praspaliauskiene, Varma)? What is the role of spatial and material affordances and environments in human and non-human interaction (D’Arcy, Praspaliauskiene, Tran)? Together, we highlight the ways that technologies and subjectivities legitimize or resist distinct regimes of power (Tran, Varma).
To interrogate these questions in closer detail, we focus on clinical spaces and the subjects they produce. Biomedical forms of care have become productive sites of theorizing self-society relations for psychological and medical anthropologists. The papers extend DelVecchio Good’s notion of the biotechnical embrace to include not just how forms of technology may be used to care for others but also constitute the caring subject (D’Arcy, Varma). Emerging forms of medical expertise and economic technologies may illuminate, expand, and discipline people’s emotional repertoires and effectively naturalize political-economic regimes (Praspaliauskiene, Tran, Varma). Moreover, anthropologists have increasingly turned to theories of value to analyze how distinctions between immaterial and material subjects and objects are destabilized (D’Arcy, Praspaliauskiene). Praspaliauskiene and Tran demonstrate that this process reflects state and market-driven imperatives towards self-definition in contexts of post-socialism and neoliberalism. Indeed, D’Arcy and Varma examine how carceral and psychiatric epistemologies may converge as expressions of state power and subject making.