Low CII 4050
March 4, 2009 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
"Aesthetics and the Bioengineered
Body: Anthropological Insights on Mechanical Hearts and their Human
A chronic shortage in transplantable human organs has generated a range of experimental alternatives: xenotransplants, involving genetically modified animals whose organs might replace those of ailing humans; tissue engineering; and mechanical prototypes that can augment or replace natal organs. Within this world of experimental science, how, specifically, do biomechanical engineers think about the human body and imagine its potential within a medical context where organ failure is imminent? This talk concerns the aesthetic consequences of such work, with particular interest in the gendered qualities assigned to human hosts whose bodies incorporate mechanical devices.
Lesley A. Sharp is Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Senior Research Scientist in Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. She is the author Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies: Death, Mourning, and Scientific Desire in the Realm of Human Organ Transfer (Columbia), Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self, which won the New Millennium Book Award of the Society for Medical Anthropology, and two earlier works based on fieldwork in Madagascar.