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CfP: History of neurosciences and social and behavioural sciences conference

The first Joint Conference of Cheiron (The international Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences) and The International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) will be held in Calgary / Banff (Canada). The main conference will be from June 16-19 at the University of Calgary, while a post-conference retreat (with workshops) will be held at the Banff Centre for the Arts from June 19-23, in the Rocky Mountains. Submissions for papers, posters, symposia/panels, or workshops are invited. When submitting poster/paper abstracts and letters of intent for symposia/panels and workshops, please indicate whether you would also consider attending the Banff retreat and presenting at that venue (especially posters and workshops).

Possible submissions may deal with any aspect of the history of the neurosciences, behavioral and social sciences or related historiographical and methodological issues.

The new, EXTENDED SUBMISSION DUE DATE IS NOW MARCH 11, 2011. All submissions must be received by *5pm CST that day*. Instructions for submitting proposals, as well as for registering at the conference, may be found at: Instructions for submitting proposals, as well as for registering at the conference, may be found at: http://www.ucalgary.ca/ISHN_Cheiron/symposium_submission.

Program Highlights and Keynote Speakers

Dr. David Hubel, John Franklin Enders Professor of Neurobiology, Emeritus, at the Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hubel shared the 1981 Nobel Prize for Physiology for his discoveries concerning information processing in the visual system.

Dr. David Wright, the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, McMaster University. Dr. Wright is the author and co-editor of seven books and more than two dozen peer reviewed articles and chapters on the history of mental health and psychiatry, including his latest work, Down’s Syndrome: A History.

Dr. Elizabeth Lunbeck, the Nelson Tyrone, Jr Professor of History and Chair, Department of History and Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. States. She is the author of several books, including The Psychiatric Persuasion: Knowledge, Gender, and Power in Modern America (Princeton 1994, 1996), which won numerous awards including the John Hope Franklin Prize and the History of Women in Science Prize. At present she is editing Histories of Scientific Observation, with Lorraine Daston (Chicago, 2010), and completing two books on the history of psychoanalysis and its cultural meaning.

Dr. Andrew T. Scull, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies at the University of California at San Diego, will give the joint Cheiron-ISHN conference keynote. His most recent work is Madmen: Durkheim and the Law (with Steven Lukes). The author or co-author of a number of books, some of his other recent works include: The Insanity of Place/The Place of Insanity: Essays in the History of Medicine, and Madhouse: A Tragic of Megalomania and Modern

Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch, who holds the AMF/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care at the University of Calgary and is the current President of ISSHN, will present the 16th Annual ISHN Presidential Lecture. The author or co-author of four books, his book Ideas in Action: The Notion of Function and its Methodological Role in the Research Program of the Experimental Physiologist Francois Magendie (1783-1855), was one of the first specialized works in the German language on experimental practices in modern medical research laboratories.

Workshops to be Held in Banff:

"Mind and Body Medicine"
Monday, June-20 (2011)
(Morning and Early Afternoon)

"The 'Hard Problem' in History"
Monday, June-20 (2011)
(Later Afternoon)

"Eugenics and Psychiatry"
Tuesday, June-21 (2011)
(One Day Workshop)

"Student History of Neuroscience
Poster Workshop"
Wednesday, June-22 (2011)
(Half Day or One Day Workshop – depending on number of submissions)

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The (Othered) Woman In The Veranda

The past two weeks, the US-ian leaning feminist blogosphere has been on campaigns against the horrid and religious-state sanctioned policy on codifying when can one press charges for being ‘really’ raped; this way the State-Religious-Oligrachal system that embodies most US-ian policies, can re-define a person’s right to abortion, which in not so pleasant terms comes down to only when the State deigns the person to be ‘really’ raped¹. I don’t need caffeine in my system to conclude that this is one of the most heinous laws I’ve come across; I’d probably file it under the law that proposes to normalise a particular hijra body over another and above the one that anyone who is NotWhite needs to identify themselves and prove their ‘legitimacy’. Last week I was chatting with a self-proclaimed ‘White Feminist With More Privileges Than You Can Count’ when she said, “I’m just glad that abortion in India is legal and you don’t have to fight such basic human rights”; and these words haven’t left me. She’s not wrong, well not wholly anyway considering abortion laws out here are pretty diffident to encroaching on human rights — there are definite loopholes when it comes to trans*, hijra, ‘mentally unstable’ bodies — and that the Govt doesn’t seem to want to start an overt war over reproductive laws. Not yet anyway.

But, like most narratives seen only through the Western lens, this one is too simple too neat too easy to consume without challenging it. Under this narrative, our only challenge is access and the patriarchal control of female — queer identities get erased yet again, of course — bodies; but when we look at it theoretically, the law is in place to all protect the right of uterus-carriers at least. This assumption is all too familiar that all we have to fight against is Our Orthodox Culture, the age-old trope that if we have to be patronised ‘helped’ it is to ‘save the brown women from the brown men’ and that our ‘problems’ exist in this horribly restrictive frame only. Here, the Third World Woman’s body — quite literally — becomes a palimpsest to be written over, She is simply a medium through with competing discourses of Imperial Feminism and Irate Conservative-Nationalism represent their claims, yet again written over with words of other’s desires, other meanings.

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Buck Angel's Safe Body Art PSA

Here is my latest Public Service Announcement on the importance of safe body art. Author and Master Piercer Elayne Angel discusses the need for clients to be educated before getting piercings or tattoos. See more about Elayne Angel and her book The Piercing Bible at http://piercingbible.com/

Here is a list of great resources:
http://piercingbible.com/
http://www.safepiercing.org/
http://www.safe-tattoos.com/

- Buck

Jaded's picture

Cataloging Gray Areas

As a person who is born and identifies as a (dusty) lady, noticing how my ‘body’ or the space it occupies is as natural as breathing; though this space is hued coloured over and eventually pushed to the fringe. As I’m considerably tall, it would be hard to not see me, one would assume. In fact, there are so many places where I slip in and out of corners and rooms without anyone noticing, sometimes this sort of partially-cloaked-conscious invisibility surprises me too. At first, this un-seeing of my body — whether consciously done or otherwise — seemed liberating. I could spend hours in my room reading or writing before my mum or aunt would come to check in and see what I was up to, generally hours would pass before they’d notice, or at libraries I would take in the smell of old musty books without the clerks giving me cold stares. Lately, this is changing as I’m “growing up” and my “womanly assets” are becoming more evident¹, but this hasn’t affected my (in)visibility. All that has changed is a few parts of my anatomy now stand for my whole person, and I remain as faceless as ever in most public and private spaces. I was self-absorbed enough for a while to think I Was The Only One and yesterday when I heard a lady behind me yelling at a rude dude who brushed past her, “Can’t you see I’m standing here?” when it hit me that being or identifying as a feminine body is more than enough to render anyone (in)visible. Interestingly, even when I’m in NotIndia, my body is more-or-less (in)visible, but what glows is my epidermal tissue. The Feminine Body — assigned or chosen — is more or less voiceless, especially if we’re hued bodies — how else will infinite access and possession be assumed univerally?  – and this is the voicelessness of a privileged, able-body. Which is exactly why hearing about the women in most psychiatric wards left me numb and horrified last week. I thought I was (in)visible partially, when these women are seen as bodies devoid of complete agency.

Like most things we do say think assert about most aspects of behaviour is mediated, specifically from Olde DoucheColonial Standards to the New Standards Of The New Empire, especially when it comes to matters of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, sexuality and everything else, so do our definitions and boundaries of ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘normal’ are still incredibly Western in chalking these lines, and as young as 40ish years in establishing the Indian Association Of Clinical Psychologists. The intelligence tests we take are Weschler’s revised tests, not all of them necessairily suit the Subcontinental Mode of learning and studying, most of these tests fall apart once we question the colonial mode of education that we still follow. I remember learning poems like ‘Daffodils’ and ‘Death The Leveler’ ‘by heart’ as a child; I’d be asked to recite these poems and the grown ups in the room would look at me patronisingly while saying, “She’s such an intelligent child! And the pronunciation! Perfect pitch!”, today I push those memories away as a violent master-slave dichotomy forms whenever I see yet another kid made to perform such poetry-acts. The doting adult steps in the shoes of the Omnipresent Coloniser, rewards the child for obeying the Empire’s mode of speech; all this while the text seeps in the skin and is absorbed by the ‘body’ as it were. Which is precisely why having the access and ‘command’ over English is seen as a matter of pride, not privilege. Psychology tests that are suited to Indian sensibilities were made first in 1999 and revised in the last few years, however most don’t take this colonial intake of knowledge into account²; similarly tests that detect ‘mental’ illnesses and disorders are still crafted for a part of the globe that isn’t as hued or as caught in colonial chains as we are. If the (in)visible feminine body is cataloged as ‘crazy’ (read deviant), and even ashrams as fluffy looking as this one — I don’t know what a white lady is doing in the header — become sites of dislocating and disrobing  agency and consent as ‘those crazy women don’t know what they want anyway’. And this is one of the few spots that doesn’t peddle ‘crazy’ women as prostitutes as many government hospitals do, mainly because the ashram caters to women with class and to an extent, caste privilege. Meanwhile the detongued-subaltern-woman-animal that women and other feminine identified bodies roar silences as their caste, class and religion puts them in a position open to exploitation and manipulation.

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Speech Through Silences

I got an invite from the Embassy Library this week, inviting me to a dinner they’re holding to celebrate Virginia Woolf’s birthday, the invite carries the stamp of the Bloomsbury Press that the Woolf’s used and there is a quote, “Arrange whatever comes your way”. Had I received this invite two years ago, I’d be squealing with enthusiasm because of the impressive logo, happy that I am a member of a library that holds such dinners — completely unaware of my privilege – I would probably even participate in the auction for the first edition pocketbooks. After all, Woolf was one of my first literary loves, I read every book she wrote in a period of six months at 18; I even presented an extremely gushy paper on her ‘stream of consciousness’ method of writing and how ‘revolutionary’ it was, considering it came from a lady, in a time ladies weren’t attributed to having many ideas or thoughts, how she situated politics of power in the Body amid other fangirly ideas. Today, I want to half-occupy that naïve girl’s space, be that ecstatic and genuinely in awe with Woolf, to not have this pesky voice in my head saying, “You know, if Woolf saw you at this dinner, she’d probably ask you to be removed out of the hall”¹; I want to unknow — in parts anyway — how her narratives construct me, always on the fringe, refusing me entry to her world. Today, were I to even forcibly re-inject ‘me’ or what ‘my body’ represents  in any of Woolf’s narratives, it would be a complete waste as her construction of ‘me’ is a void, leaving gaps for Liberal Humanism to come ‘save me’. And to think a woman and a figure that set out Othering people who didn’t match her skin tone is a cult literary feminist icon drives the idea of constructing the DeTongued Third World Woman home; this Third World Woman represents a frame: one without a body or a voice.

If I were to ‘map’ this dis-voiced body, it appears everywhere from well-loved colonial texts to western feminist scholarship. If I got a paisa for the number of times any White feminist text or study references ‘the Indian dowry system’, ‘the Indonesian women working in sweat shops’ and ‘the eternally toiling Chinese farmer, who also takes the beatings of her husband with equal silence’ then I’d probably be out of ditches to feed and clothe. Most of these texts talk about oppression and inequality in predominantly First World terminology and insert the Third World woman between parentheses, marking the ‘difference’ between both in invisible neon ink; this Western Feminist theorist constructs herself as the ‘Local’ and ‘us’ as the Exotic-Global-Marginal-Animal that is brought out to make the statement stretch beyond America or Europe’s borders, theoretically speaking only, of course². Some take it a step further and go to great lengths to discuss the Devdasi traditions, bonded labour or caste-based prostitution with the feminist-as-tourist-in-an-exotic-land where the theorist exclaims, “I can’t possibly describe to you dear reader, how sad these women’s lives are! My heart gushes for them! I lived with them for about two weeks and now will go on to theorise their life though I probably took out my own interpretations, but these women won’t ever know, because people in ditches don’t read” in perhaps more culturally-appropriative language. It serves to keep the hued woman (or feminine-identifying body) under a cage of ‘difference’, this way the theorist can engage in healthy povertyporn as well as give in to their ivory-tower complex by playing the Theorist With Divine Knowledge Of Feminism That Will Save The Dusty Bodies without acknowledging the privilege it takes for anyone to see people from this anthropological distance  – say, like the one I’m doing now! Privilege bites all our bums, dusty and otherwise — or to offer solutions that are theory and pitch perfect but go hollow the moment any subjectivity weighs in. Quite similar to the Dance Bar Ban of 2005 in Mumbai, in theory this ban aims to ‘liberate women’ but ends up putting sex-work, Dalit sexuality — as a big portion of bar dancers are from the Dalit community – behind stigmatised lines;  making it ‘forbidden’ and impossibly ‘deviant’ in one swift blow, ignoring just how much harm it is doing to the very women it aims to ‘liberate’³. In spaces like these, the Silences of the DeTongued minority speak further and faster than any literary or theoretical mumbo-jumbo.

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Buck Angel's Women's HIV/AIDS Prevention PSA

Hi.  This is my Public Service Announcement on the importance of safe sex and the prevention of HIV/AIDS.  Playboy playmate,fitness expert and HIV/AIDS educator Rebekka Armstrong speaks about how she got infected with AIDS and how you can prevent this from happening to you! 

See more about Rebekka Armstrong at www.rebekkaonline.net.

Here is a list of great HIV/AIDS resources:
http://www.thebody.com/index.html
http://www.poz.com/
http://www.projinf.org/
http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/

- Buck

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Transformative Justice Law Project: Name Change Mobilization

Dear Allies and Supporters of the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois (TJLP),

We are very excited to announce the start of our Name Change Mobilization project!  During this monthly event, attorneys and trained volunteers will help transgender and gender non-conforming folks file petitions to change their names legally at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago.  Volunteers will then provide follow-up support services to accompany folks to their court dates and help them navigate the subsequent name change processes at the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security Office, Department of Vital Records, etc.  This event will happen once a month on the last Friday of every month from 9am - 4pm.  Our goal is simple: we want to help as many people as possible legally change their names as part of our long-term goal of gender self-determination for all, free of government limitation.

Here are the details for our first mobilization!!!!

When: January 28th (this Friday)
Time: 9am - 4pm
Where: The Daley Center, 50 W. Washington, 12th floor

Do not fear! If you cannot attend this month's Mobilization, this is an ongoing project of TJLP and will reoccur on the last Friday of every month with the next two mobilizations already on February 25th and March 25th.  We send many thanks those with the financial means to donate to TJLP and help make this event possible.

If you have any questions regarding the Name Change Mobilization or know of anyone that would like to participate by either getting their name legally changed or by volunteering to help folks change their names legally, please let us know!  Our contact information for the event is namechange@tjlp.org, 773-272-1822 (phone/text).  Please see attached posters for our first mobilization in both Spanish and English.

GET EXCITED!!!!  We sure are!!!

And as always:  Fight to win!

In Solidarity,
Your friends at TJLP (website) (facebook)

Jaded's picture

Cartographies Of Struggle

 

As the eldest daughter of a Hindu family, I am expected to occupy a number of spaces that intertwine, merge and blur with the larger idea or identity that I like to believe is me, somewhere inside, that will still remain once the layers of cultural expectations, communally re-enforced values are taken away, not to mention that little role-play where I imagine for a while what would happen had colonisation not been a part of my collective history or memory. Very little of what I believe in — politically or otherwise — is designed to fit into this public persona of the Dutiful Indian Daughter™, we’re expected to be infinitely nice, obedient, subservient and perhaps more importantly, as voiceless as possible; all of this erasing and silencing goes down in the name of religion, tradition and customs. There is a clear demarcation between what is publicly acceptable and what isn’t, the moment that line is crossed, we become people like ‘that’; and everything we do reflects this invisible wall. More often than not, whatever is the ‘negative’ is seen as ‘Western’ and by extension it is bad — this list includes being independent, setting personal and bodily boundaries, speaking too much in English, wearing ‘revealing’ outfits, swearing, smoking, drinking alcohol, making ‘funny’ faces while eating ice-creams¹, sitting with one’s legs uncrossed among many other things. Most of these rules exist for bodies that identify or are read as ‘feminine’ — who cares as how people really identify themselves as long as society can can extend the chromatic heteronormativity to any body it wishes? — bodies that identify or are seen as ‘masculine’ get away with relatively more transgressions; in fact the closer they look ‘masculine’ the easier to overstep and discard boundaries. Meanwhile, ‘real’ identities swirl inside, lay hidden for the most part. God forbid you’re Queer in such a mix, then it’s just Dr. Dilbag’s guarantee to cure teh Queer out of your crotch! But I digress.

Contrary to popular opinion that ‘colonisation is over‘, we still walk move see swirl stand sleep in the DoucheColonial Daze, still go by Victorian standards², still see the image of the Woman In The Wet Sari as iconic to Bollywood cinema — an image that typically leaves the woman at the mercy of the ‘evil rain’ to not have her sari cling to her so much as to ‘make’ Randomly Lurking Dude rape or assault her, she becomes a part of Nature’s fantasy, the dude’s desire-object-animal as well as a spectacle for the viewer watching the film, washing guilt of assault completely away as it’s a part of a ‘performance’. Having dusty bodies open to assault without any kind of responsibility sounds vaguely familiar to colonisation, no? — as well as use the same excuse of ‘she shouldn’t have worn such revealing clothes, if she did then she can’t complain’ in law courts for cases of sexual assault and rape to citing that jeans on school campuses are ‘vulgar‘, we are very far away from shedding the Collectively Colonised Skin. Whether we acknowledge it or not, most of our fundamental ideas of ‘acceptable’ behaviour, sexual or otherwise, reflects Colonial ideals; there are so many who believe ‘reproduction that doesn’t produce children that we can make into Ideal Indian Citizens is of no use’. At this point my LadyBrain wonders if Blake and his supposedly ‘libertarian’ views – libertarian at the cost of his wife, as always — crafted our ‘modern’ sexual sensibility, or are we that controlled by the State. In any case, this web of colonial meanings, forms and words is the one through which we craft and project ourselves, and wrenching ourselves from such draconian standards is no easy feat³.

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On Peddling Access

This week I heard at an international seminar, “Existing while woman is such a hard thing to do, but I do it because I have no other way out”¹. I thought of saying to this lady, “Existing while woman is indeed hard, horrible, twisted and sometimes oppression’s declassé sibling, Existing While Dusty would be more frustrating, given that we don’t even have Bodies — if I am to see any literature or not-literature that comes out of the West, Center or even Our Core — our bodies are given to us, constructed  with seeds of neo-colonisation, imperialism and capitalism; they’re in a way genetically-socially engineered to ensure we always fit in the shoes of the Other, that this dust you see right under our pores is sewed on carefully so that we remain just where we were fixed so many years ago, and that sometimes I want to sit and bit by bit remove each dust particle out, unravel this debris to see what lies inside, hoping it isn’t yet mutated into something that again just furthers the idea of this epidermal tissue over another”. While I’ve begun to believe in the sacred act of Interruption©, to Not Let People Get Away When They Say Something Inanely-Appropriative, I didn’t say a thing when I heard this, mainly because this isn’t what many Progressive And Liberal-Bending People had come to hear. So if I did foil this plan, it’d foil their money’s worth, as well as make me guilty of having Marxists and other Left-Leaning people think of currency, and that is something my LadyBrain refused to take responsibility for, as there is nothing quite as heinous than having Liberals think they’re being UnLiberal or NotForward even for a second, no? But I digress.

The country they had come to discuss in terms of ‘progress’ and ‘development’ folds itself imaginary border upon border as they talked of sections unmarked by caste and practices, because ‘liberals don’t see such binary distinctions’ and the Land they spoke of had ‘potential’ and a ‘future’, nothing like it reality is, caught in a web of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’. What amuses me — where amuses is the new disgust — that these Left-Leaning-Turning-Almost-Right-Liberals’ dedication to unseeing caste and ethnicity of minority tribes as one of the factors they’re kept ’backward’ as they talk yet again of which policies that will ‘change’ the life of ‘all class minorities’, defining lives of so many people, on class oppression alone, still licking believing Marx’s theory of the feudal-zamindari system, which was untrue then and hasn’t magically righted itself in the past 150 years. The objective of this seminar was clear, “Save the Brown people from their Brown oppressors, and let Marx and Engels decide what is To Be Done Of These People” — they were very subtle in promoting this view, I confess — what shocked me is how many people do actually believe in such dynamics, both Indian and otherwise. Before I could interrupt, one theorist started talking about reproductive labour and simultaneously I saw my braincells leave in a neat row. Words like ‘accessing bodies’, ‘egalitarian goals’, ‘globalised wombs’ swirled around us, as the theorist dabbled on his fanstastical vision of tomorrow’s reproductive labour; as if having the Orient ‘open its wombs’ is a mere co-incidence. What is interesting here (leaving the horrid racism aside) is how a Dusty Feminine Body is assumed to be limitless in a way only third-world-women’s bodies are, infinitely open and possess-able². Many doctors and scholars insist that surplus reproductive labour isn’t exploitative, especially because compensation for ‘womb’ services are rather generous, which just page one of Google proves wrong.

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