Program

Thursday, February 10

6:00-7:30 p.m.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS
THE TRACE. VIOLENCE, TRUTH, AND THE POLITICS OF THE BODY
Didier Fassin, MD, MPH, James D. Wolfensohn Professor, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study; Director of Studies, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris

Moderator: David Van Zandt, President of The New School

Friday, February 11

10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Session I: CONCEPTIONS OF THE "NORMAL" BODY
We all have our own ideas about what a "normal," "healthy" body is, but these ideas are neither given nor based on some eternal biological definition. Rather, they reflect many different forces within a culture and they change over time. How do these views influence public policy in different locations? How do social dynamics affect conceptions of maleness and femaleness and how do they differ in different societies?

RELIGION
Religions exert powerful pressure on how the conception of the normal or morally acceptable body is understood. How do images of the normal body differ across religious traditions? Case studies are reviewed on the role of religion in affecting state policy with regard to the body.

Joan’s Two Bodies: Was Joan of Arc Killed by the Church or the State and Does it Matter?
Winnifred F. Sullivan, Member, School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study; Associate Professor, Director of the Law and Religion program, University at Buffalo Law School

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Summary

 

From all of the evidence, Joan of Arc was a conventionally pious Catholic and a patriotic Frenchwoman. Yet she was tried as a heretic and executed as a political dissident. She unnerved both her friends and her enemies in the church and the state with her zeal. And she continues to fascinate. Almost six centuries after she was burned at the stake, her body still has life. Why were her judges so obsessed by what she wore? What threat did her clothes and the clothes of French women today pose to the state? What does her trial at the dawn of the birth of the modern state tell us about the body and the state?

Ascribing Citizenship on the Muslim Body
John Bowen, Dunbar-Van Cleve Professor in Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis

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Summary

 

States making claims about autonomy and citizenship can appeal to negative instances that make their case by painting portraits of insufficiently autonomous and civic individuals. Over the past century, features of Muslim bodies, particularly women’s but also men’s, have taken on this diacritic role, from strategic unveiling and veiling in 20th-Century Egypt, to Turkish state proscriptions of covering the head, to more recent debates and laws across Western Europe about face coverings and, less prominently, shaking hands. State actors make claims about civic "normality" against images of its opposite: those who are slavishly obedient, unmodern, and sectarian. Those grounding their counter-claims in revealed religion may do so by naturalizing those claims, or by the opposite: by emphasizing the role of religion in curbing the natural, preventing the resurgence of the biologically "normal."

I begin with a recent and very specific intervention by the French state, seeking to justify its ban on covering the face in public by ascribing objective meanings to face coverings. I then trace the development of this form of justification backwards to antecedent arguments about virginity and head covering and seek to explain shifts in legal and political reasoning. I work outwards to ideas of "appropriate religion" that support these state claims and that find traction among some young Muslims. Finally I ask in what ways political claims about civility and autonomy with respect to Muslim bodies differ across Western European countries.

MEDICINE AND BIOLOGY
Notions of the "healthy," "normal" body often bring with them the imprimatur of science. What role does science play in our understanding of what is normal and what is not? How are these understandings reflected in policy? Does this science-policy interplay differ across cultures?

The Body as a Biological and Genetic Entity
Elof Axel Carlson, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Stony Brook University

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Summary

 

Biologists and physicians see the body through its anatomy, physiology, cells, and genes. They recognize what is typical or normal and what is atypical or abnormal. Disorders that are incapacitating or life threatening such as sickle cell anemia, phenylketonuria, or Hurler syndrome are abnormal. Some disorders can be treated to extend life expectancy or reduce the severity of symptoms. Very different are the terms used in social debates to describe people as "degenerate," "unfit to reproduce," or "inferior." A similar confusion exists over terms like personhood, superior, well-bred, good stock, and others associated with social status. The government has a role in regulating our health through its agencies. There are and should be limits to the scope of the government's oversight. A major difficulty for society is the rapidity with which scientific information about the body appears in print and the relative lack of understanding about our bodies at molecular and cellular levels by those who fear new knowledge, who misinterpret it, or who serve in legislative bodies guided by ideology (on the political left or the political right) that is unresponsive or hostile to scientific information.

Bodies of Rights and Biomedical Markets
João Biehl, Professor of Anthropology, Co-director, Program in Global Health and Health Policy, Princeton University

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Summary

 

In Brazil, low and middle-income patients are not waiting for new medical technologies to "trickle down;" they are using the levers of a responsive judiciary to now gain full access. In this paper, I show how right-to-health litigation has become an alternative pathway for Brazilians to access health care—now understood as access to drugs that are either on official pharmaceutical lists or are only available through the market. If access to HIV/AIDS therapies was the litmus test of the right to health in the 1990s, now it is access to genetic therapies. The quest for treatment access by desperate families dealing with life-threatening disorders reveals an intense political-economic-experiential field beyond the biopolitics of populations: where government facilitates a more direct relationship of atomized bodies of rights to the biomedical market. People's life chances and health outcomes are overdetermined by the kind of economic and juridical subjects they are able to become through appeals to the judiciary, government, and research and health industries amid drives for profit and the construction of new market segments. What does the democratization of biotechnological consumption do to political subjectivities and to the idea of social responsibility or care for the Other—the subject whose interest is survival?

THE CITIZEN
What is the relationship between individual bodies and the body politic? What constitutes the "normal" body of the citizen, and does this vary from country to country? What does the foreigner, the non-citizen, reveal about the body of the citizen? Do existing laws and policies differentially shape certain types of bodies and affect genders and races differently? Why does the health of the citizen matter?

Disability and the Normal Body of the Citizen
Susan Schweik, Professor, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, University of California, Berkeley

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Summary

 

In March 1944, researchers at the University of Chicago began infecting volunteer prisoners at the Illinois State Penitentiary at Stateville with a virulent strand of vivax malaria to test the effectiveness and toxicity of potent anti-malarial drugs. Dr. Alf Sven Alving, the principal investigator, would tell the prisoners that malaria "was the number-one medical problem of the war in the Pacific" and that "we were losing far more men to malaria than to enemy bullets," rehearsing one of the productive ways of encouraging human experimentation on prisoners and making willing subjects: these Stateville convicts would regain their humanity and their citizenship by sacrificing their bodies to the war effort. In this essay, I explore how the consent of the Stateville inmates was constructed and compare it to the way in which we fabricate the willingness of soldiers to sacrifice themselves in heroic battle, and, far less dramatically, to the way in which we produce willingness in our everyday lives to accept the daily and banal routines of service, work, family life, and citizenship. Like the prisoners at Stateville, we are made to feel the need to sacrifice ourselves—to serve, to abide, to agree—through associations of bodily self-sacrifice with fidelity, citizenship, and patriotism.

Making Willing Bodies: Manufacturing Consent Among Prisoners and Soldiers
Bernard E. Harcourt, Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

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Summary

 

“No person who is diseased, maimed, or deformed so as to be an unsightly or disgusting object shall expose himself to public view.” My research on this municipal ordinance (often called the “ugly law”), a 19-century statute adopted in many U.S. cities, showed me the extent to which U.S. immigration law has been ugly law writ large. The body politic of American democratic citizenry binds itself together through an internal logic that, even as it attempts to manage the incorporation of disabled subjects, drives disability down or assumes it away. But it has never done so decisively, and never without contradiction. Native American history gives us an especially valuable frame for thinking through questions of American citizenship and the ways in which it intertwines with disability, since it reveals so clearly the dizzying array of contestations and confusions about who “has” citizenship and what responsibilities the state has to those who do not. This talk will center on a Yavapai man who lived in the late 19th and early 20th century in a vortex of conflict about citizenship: Carlos Montezuma, physician and prominent Native American intellectual, co-founder of the National Society of American Indians, and radical critic of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I will explore some of the ways in which Montezuma developed not only (shifting) theories of citizenship but also theories of disability based on what he called “the standpoint of actual circumstance,” ideas that speak to our understandings of the body of the citizen today.

THE MEDIA
Advertising, film, television, and the internet have profound impacts on our idea of the "normal" body and how it is or should be treated. What is the media's impact on policy with regard to the body? How does this vary across cultures?

Losing Bodies
Susie Orbach, Visiting Professor, Sociology, London School of Economics

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Summary

 

As ever more countries enter the global economy, reshaping the body has become the means by which women are encouraged to enter modernity. Once bodies were local, marked by their own local traditions. Today, variety is replaced by uniformity. The formerly plump Miss Nigeria is superseded by a thin westernized version and sets the trend for how contemporary Nigerian women are to look. Encouraged to see the body as a consuming center, a personal logo that signifies our membership of the global community, bodies across the world are being commercialized and restructured. This development means that we are losing bodies as we lose mother tongue languages. Standardization is supplanting diversity as facsimile bodies become the new calling card of belonging and identity.

Indian Cinema and the Beautiful Body
Sumita S. Chakravarty, Associate Professor of Culture and Media, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts

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Summary

 

In what ways does a society perceive itself as beautiful? Norms of beauty are inextricably tied to ideas of well-being, virtue, social harmony, and strength (not to mention racial superiority), a kind of triumph of nature and essence over artifice and effort. The role of modern media has been to suture images of physical perfection onto the aspirations of the social or national body, the perfect body and face emblematic of the collective self-image. Yet the beautiful body is also a reminder of (one’s own) imperfections, at once a promise and a threat, giving rise to the desire to intervene and reshape one’s image. In recent years, under conditions of economic and cultural globalization, the intersections of popular media with discourses of the body beautiful have come under increasing scrutiny. Concerned with the marketing and commodification of body ideals, these studies trace the deleterious effects of media images and discourses in various national and cross-cultural contexts. Taking these studies as my point of departure, my purpose in this essay is to examine Indian society’s relationship to body ideals through the lens of popular cinema. Specifically, I am interested in seeing how the centrality of the beautiful face and body as locus of appeal ties in with larger concerns about civilization norms and values. Advancing the notion of the cinema body, my aim is to theorize the historical and cultural dimensions of our understanding of the beautiful.

Moderator: Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research

2:30-5:30 p.m.
Session II:
THE SEXUAL BODY
How do various forces compete to impose their conception of what is "normal" sexual behavior? How do we come to see particular sexual practices as legitimate (or not) and therefore legally acceptable? Cross-cultural comparisons and case studies.

HISTORY
Understandings of gender and the sexual body change. These changes are reflected in art, literature, and myth, as well as in policy. What can the history of discourse about the sexed body contribute to contemporary discussions about policy questions concerning sexuality?

God’s Body: Historical Conflicts over the Representation of the Sexual Body of the Hindu God Shiva
Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago Divinity School

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Summary

 

A dispute about the symbolism of the lingam (or linga), a cylindrical votary object that represents the Hindu god Shiva, has been going on for many centuries in India: Is its meaning inexorably tied to a particular part of the physical body of the god, or is it abstract, purely spiritual? This essay traces the history of this dispute. Present day Hindu sensibilities about the lingam will be illuminated by a consideration of the historical role of two non-Hindu cultures in India–Muslim and British. Underlying this particular debate is the more general problem of the ambiguity of the symbolism, particularly the religious symbolism, of the body and of forms that represent the body.

Does Sexuality Exist Without the State?
Sharon Marcus, Orlando Harriman Professor of English, Columbia University

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Summary

 

Both the state and sexuality have a history, one in which nineteenth-century England has often had an exemplary status. This paper will argue that the very concept of sexuality (to be distinguished both from the body, and from the much larger category of sexual desires, acts, impulses, and identities) implies a debate about control by the state, and thus what should itself be up for discussion: does sexuality exist outside the framework of the state? Does the state create sexuality as a realm divided into permissible and impermissible desires by designating those it cannot or should not control, and those it must constrain or eliminate?

To make this point, I use the case of 19th-century England to explore some of the ways that the state both did and did not control sexuality. By the nineteenth century, British political thought and culture had developed a strong belief in negative liberty and privacy; like most European countries, England had a long history of subordinating women to men and subsuming married adult women into husbands; and it had a complicated legal system that included three systems of law: common, civil, and ecclesiastical. For these reasons and others, many things we now group under the rubric of sexuality went unlegislated, or only became the subject of legislation after great controversy: marital rape, adoption, and sex between women had no legal existence whatsoever; prostitution and sex between adult men and female minors were always vexed areas of regulation; divorce was almost impossible to obtain for much of the century. A whole range of erotic affective relationships, often seen as outside the realm of sexuality per se, went completely unregulated by the law: quasi-marital relationships between women; intense and often highly erotic friendships same-sex friendships. At the same time, the state criminalized gender practices with implied sexual consequences, such as cross-dressing; sexual practices, such as sodomy and gross indecency between men; and visual, dramatic, and textual representations of sex deemed obscene.

The nineteenth century saw a major expansion and redefinition of the state apparatus in England (parliamentary reform, rationalization of the legal system, creation of a new police force) which produced debates about what were appropriate objects of state control. Although Foucault argued that the most powerful forms of controlling sexuality in the nineteenth century were extra-governmental and had to do with norms rather than outright state repression, the state continued to take an active role in deciding which norms and deviations to legalize and which norms and deviations to criminalize. While pointing out this local problem with Foucault’s account, I conclude by raising a Foucauldian question: if the concept of sexuality itself is inseparable from the state’s power to control or not control it, then is it possible that one way the state controls the body is through the very concept of sexuality? Does the notion of sexuality make the sexual body inseparable from the question of state control, even when what is at stake is a challenge to state control, or the definition of sexuality as that which the state cannot and should not control?

GENDER
What are the policy implications of the forces shaping contemporary understandings of gender and the male or female body, including feminism, transsexuality, genital mutilation, and debates about gender and biology? Is a gender-neutral legal system possible?

Verdicts of Science, Rulings of Faith: Transgender/Sexuality in Contemporary Iran
Afsaneh Najmabadi, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University

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Summary

 

This talk and future paper offer an account of the contemporary diagnostic and treatment procedures of transexuality in Iran, situating the official process in a discursive nexus that is engaged in establishing and securing a distinction between the acceptable “true” transgender/sexual and other categories that might be confused with it, most notably the wholly unacceptable category of the “true” homosexual. In this process, the category of “transgender/sexual” is made legible as an acceptable form of existence by the condensed working of the legal, the Islamic jurisprudential [fiqhi], the bio-medico-psycho-sexological, and the various contingents of the forces of coercion—which we often call “the state.” This nexus is well-constituted and authorized by transgender/sexual practices in everyday life, self-definitions, and self-productions.

Securing Gender: States, Bodies, and Identity Verification
Paisley Currah, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Brooklyn College, City University of New York (Paper co-authored by Tara Mulqueen)

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Summary

 

In prisons, in barracks and militarized spaces, and at the nation's borders, the body is especially vulnerable to inspection by state actors. Recently, airports have become important sites of identity control, not only for international movement—tourism and migration—but for domestic travel as well. In this paper, we examine how the gendered body is doubly scrutinized as a verifier of identity and as a potential carrier of weapons. We first look at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's identity verification procedures and its implementation of body imaging technologies and physical pat downs. For transgender travelers, mismatches between one's identity documents and one's bodily configuration can and has led not only to "identity impasses" but to perceptions of unexpected or atypical bodies as threats. The image of a watchman state literally scanning and prodding bodies to distinguish individuals and to identify threats appears to capture the reigning motif of the national security state and its heightened attempt to exert sovereign control over individual bodies. Yet, as we suggest in the second part of our paper, the link between identity documents and the bodies they classify is tenuous at best. Indeed, identity documents and gender designations are not unlike forms of currency: identity documents promise a corresponding body in the same way that currency promises material value, yet neither actually refers to anything wholly tangible. We will conclude by suggesting that the state's "securitization of gender" is better thought through using conceptual tools that center papers over bodies, populations over individuals, and statistics over discrete events.

RACE AND CLASS
Race and class are often tied to reproductive rights, access to health care, and sexual violence (e.g. rape, human trafficking). How is the struggle for race and class justice connected to struggles surrounding policies concerning the body?

Body Politic, Bodies Impolitic
Charles W. Mills, John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy, Northwestern University

Violence and Humanity: Or, Thinking Vulnerability as Political Subjectivity 
Anupama Rao, Associate Professor of South Asian History, History Department, Barnard College

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Summary

 

My talk and final paper are concerned with the radical transformation in conceptions of caste enabled by India’s Constitutional provisions for the abolition of untouchability and for the protection of its most vulnerable victims. Through an exploration of instances of "caste atrocity," including of sexual violence, I explore how laws to protect Dalits, or ex-untouchables, also ironically produce conceptions of vulnerability (and activate memories of historical violence and humiliation). In so doing, my paper addresses the problem of how modern states, especially regimes of historic redress, imagine incomplete or violated bodies and how such vulnerability can in turn function as a form of political subjectivity. Ultimately, the theoretical ambition of this paper is to think through the problematic permeability of “violence” and “the human” in narratives of political-subject formation and to think across discrete trajectories of sex, caste, class, and race in the interest of a truly global account of subaltern humanity.

SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Who we are, what we do, and with whom affect how sexual behavior is controlled and judged. How does this play out in different cultures and legal systems?

Sexual Orientations, Rights and the Body: Immutability, Essentialism, and Nativism
Edward Stein, Vice Dean, Professor of Law, and director of the program in Family Law, Policy, and Bioethics at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

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Summary

 

Both advocates and opponents of lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights (LGB rights) make reference to whether and how sexual orientations are embodied, namely whether one's sexual orientation is innate, unchangeable, or a "natural fact." In particular, in the United States, discussion centers on whether LGB people are "born that way" or "choose" to be gay. In litigation about LGB rights, this discussion connects to the so-called immutability factor in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in similar clauses in state constitutions. My presentation surveys the surrounding conceptual and the legal issues and focuses on how they play out in the context of recent court cases related to marriage for same-sex couples. I argue that in legal as well as political and social contexts, it is a better strategy to focus on justice, equality, and fairness and to avoid biological, psychological, and other scientific issues about how sexual orientations are embodied.

Gender Pluralism: Muslim Southeast Asia Since Early Modern Times
Michael G. Peletz, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Emory University

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Summary

 

This paper examines three big ideas: difference, legitimacy, and pluralism. Of chief concern is how people construe and deal with variation among fellow human beings. Why under certain circumstances do people embrace or even sanctify differences, or at least begrudgingly tolerate them, and why in other contexts are people less receptive to difference, sometimes overtly hostile to it and bent on its eradication? What are the cultural and political conditions conducive to the positive valorization and acceptance of difference? And, conversely, what conditions undermine or erode such positive views and acceptance? Taking as its point of departure the prevalence of transgendered ritual specialists and the prestige accorded them throughout much of Southeast Asia’s history, this paper examines pluralism with respect to gender and sexuality among Southeast Asian Muslims since the early modern era, which historians and anthropologists of the region commonly define as the period extending roughly from the 15th to the 18th centuries.

Moderator: William Hirst, Professor of Psychology, The New School for Social Research

Saturday, February 12

10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Session III: WHO HAS RIGHTS TO THE BODY?

The struggle over control of the body is fierce and sometimes violent, including questions about the beginning, sustaining, and ending of life to ways in which the state and quasi-state agencies can take possession of the body. How do these debates play out in public policy? How do rights—individual human rights and state-granted rights—factor into these struggles? How do these struggles and debates differ between cultures and legal systems?

REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
What factors influence laws governing abortion and reproductive technologies? How does policy vary in different states and cultures?

Regulating the Reproductive Body in China
Susan Greenhalgh, Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine

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Summary

 

Despite profound economic liberalization, China continues to have one of the most state-centric regimes of reproductive regulation in the world. Drawing on over two decades of field and documentary research in the People’s Republic, this paper examines transformations in the politics and policies of population regulation over the decades 1980 to 2010. It argues that the state’s strategic aims in managing and optimizing the Chinese population and reproductive body have always been to cultivate a new generation of healthy, well educated, global-quality Chinese who will speed the nation’s rise to global prominence. The key debates over the one-child policy—the centerpiece of reproductive regulation—have been largely among population and other scientists; as is common in Leninist systems, ordinary people have had no voice at the policy table. While the world continues to equate China’s population politics with the one-child policy, the field of population governance is exploding, adding critical new issue areas, new techniques of governance, and new governors of population and reproduction, from professionals and non-governmental organizations to individuals themselves. Today the state is not so much losing control over the reproductive body as it is selectively delegating particular aspects of reproductive regulation to agents whose hopes, desires, and modes of operation it has already shaped to its own ends.

Reproductive Entanglements: Assistive Reproductive Technologies as Optics for Viewing the Regulation of Child-Bearing
Rayna Rapp, Professor of Anthropology, New York University

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Summary

 

The national contexts in which states do and don't legislate assistive reproductive technologies are extremely heterogeneous. Using the many ethnographic reports of anthropologists who have studied them, this presentation surveys the entanglements not only of "the state and the body," but of gender and kinship relations, religion, medical practice, and the globalization of fertility technologies themselves in which regulatory legislation is embedded. At stake are issues not only of reproductive choice and its biosocial limits, but of reproductive stratification, as well.

SUSTAINING AND ENDING LIFE
Who has access to health care? When is ending life justified?

Irony Awaits: Neuroscience, Consciousness, and the Right to Die
Joseph Fins, M.D., E. William Davis, Jr. M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics; Chief, Division of Medical Ethics; Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Medicine in Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College

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Summary

 

It has been 20 years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Cruzan further established a right to die. And like its predecessor case, Quinlan, the basis of this right was predicated upon choice in the face of medical futility. But new neuroimaging findings are suggesting that there are sometimes profound discordances between what is visible at the bedside and what is occurring within the brain, both raising disturbing questions about the right to die and the civil rights of those whose consciousness is obscured by injury. This talk will look at the diagnostic and therapeutic advances in cognitive neuroscience since Cruzan and consider their ethical implications for medicine, the law, and modern society.

Healthcare Reform 2.0
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Public Health, CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College

POSSESSION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE BODY
Under what conditions does the state take possession of the body or tacitly sanction another's taking ownership of an individual's body e.g. military service (both voluntary and forced), quasi-state terrorist organizations, slavery, and imprisonment? How are systems of detention and punishment used to govern both citizens and noncitizens? What forces are at play when the state employs the calculated application of pain or capital punishment?

Torture and Dream of Reason
Paul W. Kahn, Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities and Director, Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights, Yale Law School

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Summary

 

The torture prohibition is not just one rule among many. Its status as an absolute prohibition in both domestic and international law suggests that it lies at the very foundation of the rule of law. Yet, the prohibition is oddly discontinuous with other practices of state sanctioned violence. In this talk, I suggest that the prohibition functions as much as symbol as norm. To explain what it symbolizes, I deploy some of the interpretive methodology Freud used to interpret dreams. The torture prohibition is a kind of waking dream. As with other dreams, we must pierce the manifest content to reveal the unconscious thoughts. The meaning of the prohibition, I argue, comes less from a concern about victims than about torturers, for the right to torture was a claim of the sacral monarch. The affective weight of the prohibition emerges from the relationship of law to sovereignty, and the violent, sacrificial demand of even a popular sovereign.

The Problem of the Body in Modern State Punishment
David Garland, Professor of Sociology, New York University School of Law

THE DEAD BODY

The Deep Time of the Dead
Thomas Walter Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Professor of History, University of California 

Appearing and Disappearing Bodies (Mexico 2010) 
Claudio Lomnitz, Director, Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Professor, Columbia University

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Summary

 

The presentation focuses on the appearance and disappearance of bodies in the public sphere. It focuses on three circumstances: the disappearance of the corpses of victims of current narco violence; the presence of corpses in public space and in the media as a communicative strategy in narco violence; and the disappearance and reintegration of bodies of undocumented migrants and border crossers. An analysis of the interplay between these kinds of situations allows for a discussion of the ways in which the corpse is mobilized to lay claims on the state, and the ways in which it comes to represent the disjunction between state and population—the limits of contemporary governance.

Moderator: Ann Snitow, Associate Professor, Literature and Gender Studies, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts 

2:30-5:30 p.m.
Session IV: BUYING AND SELLING THE BODY

Market forces have profound impacts on our idea of the body and how it is or should be treated. How do these forces operate, and how do they affect legislation with regard to the body? How do these forces differ in different social and cultural contexts? What is the impact of globalization on policy concerning bodies in the marketplace?

BODY PARTS
What factors are at work in allowing and policing sperm and egg donation, blood donation, organ trade, and market in body parts?

Intimate Markets in Biological Spaces
Michele Goodwin, Everett Fraser Professor in Law, University of Minnesota
The Body of the Enemy: Organ Theft During Wartime, Conflict and Political Chaos
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Chancellor's Professor in Medical Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley; Director, Organs Watch

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Summary

 

My presentation will address a public secret: the plunder of the bodies of the "enemy" or the "terrorist" for organs and tissues during times of conflict, warfare, and natural disasters, as an unrecognized crime against humanity. Because allegations of organ theft are so often confounded with urban legends and rumors, they are often quickly dismissed and such abuses allowed to continue. I will briefly highlight three cases of criminal tissue and organs trafficking in which I have been involved providing evidence to authorities: 1) Medical abuses and bio-piracy of the bodies of inmates at the National Asylum for the Mentally Deficient, Colonia Montes de Oca, during and after the Argentine “Dirty War”; 2) Tissue and organ theft and stockpiling following autopsies of dead bodies, including of Palestinian "terrorists" at Abu Kabir, the National Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv beginning in the late 1980s; and 3) Kidnapping, murder, and organs theft of Serbian "enemies" following the Kosovo war (1999-2000) linked to more recent allegations of transplant trafficking at the Medicus Clinic in Pristina (2007-2008). I will identify some of the obstacles to effective interventions and prosecution of these almost unthinkable crimes and the preventive measures that need to be taken.

BIOLOGICAL MARKERS: GENES AND DNA
Who owns our genes? How is biological information controlled and used?

Perversion and Forensic Science: Fraudulent DNA Testimonies and the Danger of Bio Banks
Renata Salecl, Centennial Professor of Law, London School of Economics; Senior Research, Institute of Criminology, Faculty of Law, Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Summary

 

The fascination with forensic science, the fascination with DNA bio-banks and TV shows like CSI have created the belief that law can always find the criminal and that only a small sample from his or her body is needed to prove whether he or she is guilty or innocent. In the last years, however, a number of cases were discovered where forensic scientists tampered with DNA evidence. Psychoanalysis would question, if in such cases, we might have the problem of dealing with scientists who get particular perverse enjoyment in making “mistakes” in their testimonies. A pervert is not only a person who has found a particular sexual enjoyment (like a voyeur, masochist, sadist or exhibitionist). A pervert might very well be someone who speaks from special position of righteousness. When a forensic scientist goes to the extreme of making false claims about DNA evidence, we need to question what kind of enjoyment he or she has in being a master who (often in the name of morality) can manipulate other people’s lives. The question is also why the legal profession has such a hard time questioning expert testimonies and why the public so much believes in the power of DNA.

Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Body in Research: the Different Lives of Specimens and Data
Pilar Ossorio, Associate Professor of Law and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin Law School

SEX TRAFFICKING/PROSTITUTION
Why and how do different governments respond to the sex trade both within their borders and transnationally? What are the arguments to legalize and regulate prostitution?

States of Contradiction: Ten Ways to Do Nothing About Trafficking While Pretending To
Carole S. Vance, Associate Clinical Professor of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

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Summary

 

In the past decade, efforts to decriminalize prostitution and approach it through rights and labor frameworks have been increasingly entangled in and undermined by campaigns about “trafficking.” This seems counterintuitive, since recent breakthroughs in international law recognize that people can be trafficked into many forms of exploitative labor and that the ‘exploitation of prostitution’ and prostitution are distinct. The hyperfocus of many states and advocacy groups on trafficking into forced prostitution, however, consistently subverts these gains. The paper examines the methods through which trafficking into forced prostitution is made the central and most alarming type of trafficking. I argue that this preoccupation obscures state responsibility for creating conditions favorable to trafficking, by making non-state actors the chief villains and sex the motive, and leads to policy that is ineffective and reactionary.

PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY
New products and technologies are continuously reshaping our conceptions of what is or is not a "normal" body, and their acceptability is governed differently in different countries. What is the role of the pharmaceutical industry concerning the testing and marketing of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. and elsewhere?

Evidence and Insecurity in the Global Clinical Trial
Adriana Petryna, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

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Summary

 

The outsourcing and off-shoring of clinical trials have sparked an unprecedented global field of experimental activity. In this talk, I address the scientific and regulatory norms by which this field has taken form. I look into the clinical trials industry and its move to low- and middle-income countries, particularly in eastern Europe and Brazil. Lives and bodies are often precariously tethered to new medical commodities as they enter (via the trial) the value chains of transnational medicine and capital. Transparency is a key problem, and I discuss the politics of creating centralized registries through which the scope of this experimental enterprise might be known. As the pharmaceutical research engine molds itself to international and national regulatory norms, recognition of adverse risk is often deferred or engineered out. I explore policy gaps with respect to how the benefits and insecurities of global experiments are distributed—as well as emergent political practices of accountability and care.

Property, Rights, and the Constitution of Contemporary Indian Biomedicine: Notes from the Gleevec Case
Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago

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Summary

 

In this paper, I am interested in tracing how intellectual property regimes drive the re-institutionalization of pharmaceutical development in India today in unsettled and contested ways. I draw upon an exemplary case surrounding a patent on the anti-cancer drug Gleevec. I am interested in how this case resolves, in an apparent purification, into technical and constitutional components; how the technical components are entirely unsettled; and how the constitutional components open up questions regarding the relationship between biocapital and issues of constitutionalism, rights, and corporate social responsibility.

Moderator: Katayoun Chamany, Associate Professor, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 13, Noon-1:00 p.m.

Metropolitan Musuem Tour: Intersections of the Body and the State Represented in Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts custom tours of diverse collections. For this conference, Elizabeth Kessler-Dimin of Princeton University will lead at a tour to illustrate how issues of control of the body and self-expression are represented in works of art dating from antiquity to the modern era. The tour will begin in the Greco-Roman galleries, where we will consider the role of the body in conveying democratic ideals. In the ancient Egyptian galleries, the tour will analyze sculptures of the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut, in terms of power and gender. Neoclassical interpretations of the body in painting and sculpture are next. Finally, the tour moves to the galleries of African art to explore use of the body to convey political importance in a modern nsiki power figure. Tickets are $24 ($16 for students with ID) and include general admission to the museum. Call 212.229.5776 x3 to register for the and pay before the conference.

 
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