Negotiating Across Bodies and Medical Technologies


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Presentation Title:

  • Negotiating Across Bodies and Medical Technologies




  • This aspect of the discussion begins with Ann Scott’s (1998) question: if medicines other than modern allopathic medicine can be said to ‘work,’ then ‘what are the implications for our [Western/Eurocentric] metaphysics? In what reality might these sort of [interventional practices] have an intrinsic place?’ This question will be discussed from the perspective of working with the human body within the Chinese medicine clinic (which encompasses two approaches to medical practice: biomedical and ‘traditional’ Chinese medicine). The lifeworld of the Chinese medicine clinic constitutes a situation of complex interactions between body-based problems on the one hand, and finding solutions in the form of treatment strategies on the other. Attending to body-based problems under the ‘logic’ Chinese medicine is accomplished by using a specific set of interventions and performance methods.

    The Chinese medical constitution of the body is as an interfacing organism that is actively shaped by its relationship to natural and socio-cultural structures – structures that are themselves in continual states of transformation. Also central to the Chinese medical organisation of the body is that it is a ‘holistic’ organism of different interrelated substances and essences that are shaped and mediated by the alchemical processes of yinyang and wuxing – which is to say a cyclical and cosmological model of relations (logic) where the focus of relations is on trans-individual process, Whereas the biomedical model of the body, largely influenced by Cartesian and Augustinian traditions, views the body as a set of mechanical processes to be perfected. Moreover, within the Aristotelian tradition, technological concepts of time and space are based on progression and movement from one thing to another.