my paper Quantifying the Self at XR2014

My paper Quantifying the Self: All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data

Aristea Fotopoulou

at Crossroards in Cultural Studies in Tampere Finland is in

SESSIONS H Wednesday 15:45–17:15 H1 Permeable Boundaries: Bodies in Science, Medicine, and Culture

(Chair: Michelle Iwen, Arizona State University, United States).

Paper abstract

This paper examines the emerging culture of the Quantified Self movement, whose
practitioners undertake a range of practices of data collection, management and analysis, in order to produce knowledge about the self. The movement has been recently understood in terms of surveillance (Phillips) and the Panopticon (Bossewitch and Sinnreich). Drawing from fieldwork with San Francisco and London-based quantifiers, this paper focuses instead on what people do with the new technologies, what tracking means for them and how it gets embedded in their everyday lives. The analysis engages with media (Couldry, Hepp), sociological and anthropological work (Durkheim, Goffman) on rituals, to approach Quantified Self as a media culture that performs ritualistic reconstructions of the Self, and shows how the movement constantly reinvents itself and its position in existing social structures through the narratives that it produces and circulates in the media.

Panel Abstract

This panel will present papers that look at how science, medicine and culture construct,
regulate and/or challenge physical bodies and their borders. More specifically, we will
examine the problematic nature of a normalized “self”, complicated by issues of bodily
excretions and the prevalence of nonhuman biological material within the human body.
This concern for a human “self” is troubled in 18th century Enlightenment discourses of theinterior/exterior bodily boundary and issues of a gender binary, secreting organs, anddisturbances of mood. Moving the body into the 21st century, these same concerns over interior/exterior boundaries resurface in the narratives of bodies in outer space, as concerns about excretion and reproductive capacity unfold along gendered lin
es in biomedical research beyond the bounds of our planet. Finally, we will examine how the idea of a traditionally bounded “self” is potentially challenged by contemporary
immunology/microbiology and explore the subsequent consequences for health practices.

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