The Perfect Body

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Estee on 05-07-2009

I thought many of you would be interested in this upcoming conference in Europe:  The Perfect Body: Between Normativity and Consumerism. Here are the details and click here for the website:

ESF-LiU Conference

Chaired by:

Dr. Katrin Grueber
IMEW (Institut Mensch, Ethik und Wissenschaft)

Dr. Ursula Naue
Life Science Governance Research Platform
University of Vienna
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Political Science

9-13 October 2009

The conference will be held at Scandic Linköping Väst, Sweden – 7km  from Linköping airport and 4km from the train station. Most notably,  the Swedish chain Scandic Hotel´s commitment to sustainability won the  Green Meetings Award in 2008. It is located in Linköping which is the  capital of Östergötland county, situated in the center of a vast open  farmland. It is Sweden’s fifth largest city with more than 136,000  inhabitants and has a long history as a city of learning.

Preliminary Programme

Enhancement as the improvement of desired characteristics (W. French  Anderson) means to focus on abilities, capacities and quality of life.  These categories can be viewed and defined from different value-driven  perspectives which are based upon certain viewpoints on what  constitutes “normality.” Furthermore they are framed by the concept of  autonomy. The general approach towards the issue of enhancement can be  understood in the context of consumerism – the “production” of  enhanced persons as an act of individual freedom and choice. But  another approach, which will be the main focus of the conference, is  based upon the fact that perspectives of disabled persons on  enhancement have been neglected so far. This is important as  enhancement technologies can have different societal and political  implications for disabled and non-disabled persons. The discussion  about enhancement focuses on therapy of something in need of  treatment. But with regard to disability, this debate about  enhancement in contrast to therapy and treatment has to be re-thought  and re-contextualised.

Hence, the conference takes as its starting point the view that it is  socio-politically as well as ethically necessary and important to look  at enhancement technologies from a “disability-perspective.” In the  context of historic developments and the intersection of medicine and  economy, enhancement technologies will be discussed from several  different scientific perspectives. The conference is organised as an  interdisciplinary dialogue and aims to provide an open forum for  discussion and networking. This approach towards enhancement  technologies is necessary, as the field of enhancement is an  increasingly important area of intervention into life and the body.  The conference will be the first international meeting to bring  together Disability Studies, Science, Technology and Society Studies  and Ethics.

The following are some of the questions that will be discussed:

* To what extent and in what way does consumerism influence the  current debate about enhancement technologies?
* Which problems arise from this understanding of enhancement  technologies for disabled and non-disabled persons and consumers of  these technologies?
* What are the consequences of enhancement technologies for  disabled persons?
* Is the “upgrade” an upgrade from old established norms or is a  “new normal body” created?
* Who is excluded by both starting points of enhancing the human  being?
* Do enhancement technologies carry a risk of excluding certain  groups within society, such as disabled persons?
* How can consumerism be embedded in an ethical framework?
* What role does normativity play?
* What new possible forms of exclusion and inequality on several  levels might occur as a result of using enhancement technologies?  Questions such as these make it quite clear that the conference is a  necessary and important way of approaching enhancement technologies  that already have implications for both human beings and for society.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.