Editor Kathryn Burrows is calling for manuscripts for an edited volume with the working title Medical Technology and the Social: How Medical Technology Is Impacting Social Relations, Institutions, and Beliefs about What Is Normal (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.)
Medical technology is not a product of modernity, as is often assumed: as early as 950 BC, Egyptians were using wooden and leather prosthetics for missing toes. For at least 3000 years, humans have invented tools, devices, and products for the advancement of health, medicine, and wellness. However, we could perhaps date the modern revolution of medical technology to Jenner’s invention of vaccines in 1798, the use of surgical lighting beginning in the 1850’s, or Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays in 1895. More recently, advanced medical technology, such as imaging technology like fMRIs, cochlear implants and other prosthetics, IVF and other reproductive technologies, and, most recently, the use of AI in medicine and surgery, have transformed not only medicine, but also the social world and institutions in which we live. Prenatal ultrasounds now can tell expectant parents the sex of their unborn child, changing the experience of pregnancy; advanced surgery can now perform gender-affirming surgery altering not only a person’s appearance, but their very identity; Telehealth has expanded access to healthcare to homebound or rural patients; and 3D printing has enabled the production of customized organs and limbs. In addition to these technologies, advances in pharmacology have allowed some people with profound psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia to work, have families, and live “normal” lives, and have given people with conditions as diverse as diabetes and ALS a longer life span. And, across all these technological inventions, the question of “what is normal” lingers; is it “normal” to have access to prosthetic blades that can enhance physical performance; is it “normal” to take 15-30 pills a day to manage chronic diseases; is it “normal” to have a pig heart transplanted into a human body?
The hope of this volume is to solicit manuscripts fro a wide range of disciplines that examine the social impacts of medical technology, ranging from the impact of technology on the individual, to impacts on institutions and the trend toward broad social change.
See the entire call for manuscripts, which includes example topics and the requirements and procedures for sending abstracts. Submissions are due September 30, 2022.
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