Nandita Sridhar. “Body Unbounded: Media Technologies and the Perpetuation of the Healthy Individual Body.” Presentation at the “What is Media?” conference, Portland, Oregon, April 14-16.
Abstract: This article examines the intersection of media and communication technologies and the material body in perpetuating the normative materiality of the healthy individual body. A long-standing, conventional focus in public health defines the individual subject (its focus of attention and intervention) as a skin-bound, self-contained body analogous in many ways to the liberal, Enlightenment subject and conventional conceptions of communication as message transmission. Thus, the individualization of public health requires in turn not only the personalization of the usage of media technologies (individual messages directed at individuals with the intention of individual behavioral change), it also puts the onus for successful public-health interventions on individuals and their ability to control themselves and their behaviors. In doing so, such a conception and practice neglects the constitutive nature by which bodies as social productions are produced and addressed. The article concludes that, by addressing bodies/subjects of public health as themselves media and as products of the intersection of conditions, physicalities and culture, greater understanding can emerge of public-health issues and how they might be differently addressed.