Sabine Kienitz

Prothesen-Körper. Anmerkungen zu einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Technikforschung

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Abstract

This article discusses the phenomenon of modern prosthetics as a new field of research for the discipline of Ethnology/Cultural Anthropology and emphasizes the specificity of the cultural studies perspective and the importance of ethnographic access. The aim of the project is to link technology research based on cultural studies to problems of body and gender studies. At the same time it interrelates questions on the discourse and materiality of body and gender as well as of technology. The social-humanitarian relevance of technical enhancement and reshaping of the human body by means of prostheses is out of the question in view of the living conditions of war and landmine victims. However, also the number of people of all ages, sexes and classes, who suffer from amputations because of illness and accidents, points to a growing demand for medi-cal-technical as well as psychological care, and highlights moreover the economic relevance of research and production in this field. Hence, the problem of a mergence of body and technology is not only symbolically but also very tangibly relevant, when people are confronted with the task to learn to use high-tech prostheses and integrate these objects into their body and their everyday life. In this context culturally relevant effects on gendered concepts of subject and body are identifiable that go far beyond the discourse on technological progress and the debate on a possible optimization of the human in the sense of a cyborg figure.