Centre for Health, Technologies and Social Practice

Affective Technologies: A One Day Workshop Organised by THeSP

LightsDate: 19 May 2014

This workshop will explore the intersections of affect and technology focusing on technologies’ roles in producing, mediating and constraining embodied feelings and bodily practice.  A series of empirical papers will consider how a range of technological artefacts, systems and processes operate in relation to particular social actors, including patients, scientists, healthcare practitioners, academics, athletes, prisoners and consumers.

Confirmed speakers include Pamela Fisher, Ruth Holliday, Shona Hunter, Anne Kerr, Shirley Tate and Karen Throsby.


11:00 – 11.15
Welcome and introduction

11.15 – 11.45
Ruth Holiday: Hope Flows: Assemblages and Affects in Transnational Cosmetic Surgery Clinics

11.45 – 12.15
Karen Throsby: Measuring the Swimming Body

12.15 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 1.30
Anne Kerr: Feeling Responsible: Managing Translational Biomedical Research

1.30 – 2:00
Alexa Athelstan: Queer Feminine Affect Aliens: Disabled Femmes Rearticulating Queer Femininities Through Justified Anger at Ableism

2:00 – 2.30
Pamela Fisher: Reconciling Technologized Care Pathways with Personalized Ethics

2.30 – 3:00 Coffee

3:00 – 3.30
Shirley Tate: Technologies of Terror: Women in Prison

3.30 – 4:00
Shona Hunter: Pedagogic Affects: The Relational Politics of Loving/Hating Enactments

4:00 – 4.30
Closing discussion, conclusions and further directions

Coffee and refreshments will be provided at 2.30 pm. Lunch is available for delegates to purchase in the Student Union.


Pamela Fisher: Reconciling Technologized Care Pathways with Personalized Ethics

Although the fields of medicine and healthcare have been significantly shaped by New Public Management, a parallel requirement for person-centred provision, as well as disturbing revelations regarding the standards of care have given rise to growing recognition that compassionate and responsive care is contingent on a sense of professional responsibility which extends beyond technical compliance. There is a growing body of literature suggesting that an engaged sense of professional responsibility is often embodied and embedded within a particular context rather than drawn from the abstract values of disinterestedness traditionally associated with professionalism. This form of professional commitment is shaped by significant emotional dimensions which challenge public/private boundaries. The implications of this type of personalised ethics need to be considered, particularly in a context in which health and social care professionals are increasingly expected to work within technologized care pathways (for example through the application of algorithms).  This contribution will raise questions regarding how embodied forms of personalised ethics can be reconciled with the growing use of technological expertise in professional decision-making.

Ruth Holiday: Hope Flows: Assemblages and Affects in Transnational Cosmetic Surgery Clinics

This paper explores the hopes of the various actors who assemble around the transnational cosmetic surgery clinic. Whilst patient-consumers hope for transformations in their bodies and life chances, former patients-turned-agents hope to make a living guiding others through the intrepid and uncharted cosmetic expeditions that they themselves pioneered. Surgeons hope to employ a public sector professional ethic of attending to the ‘whole person’ by moving from overstretched national facilities to private-sector clinics with a customer service ethos. Governments support cosmetic surgery industries in the hope that their own clinics will lead the world medical technologies, generating jobs and income for the national economy and marking their national as ‘modern’.  We explore these hopes – and fears and disappointments too – as they come together in the highly charged environment of the cosmetic surgery clinic, through the accounts of its actors.  The research was generated through ESRC-funded research on cosmetic surgery tourism in seven destination countries in Europe and East-Asia.

Shona Hunter: Pedagogic Affects: The Relational Politics of Loving/Hating Enactments

“It’s impossible not to personalise what people are saying and it is quite interesting in terms of emotion in a classroom.  In the classroom people says things… that make my hands sweat… Very occasionally I find myself analysing behaviour from a classroom whereby I have been dealing, or perceived myself to be dealing with, not necessarily a direct attack on me but obviously an attack on black people is a direct attack on me…  So you have to take them on a slow journey.  But all the way through the slow journey they are quite happy to slit your throat on the basis of their beliefs, so whilst you are facilitating, coaching, encouraging and trying to develop somebody, you are developing somebody who hates you.  And you know it because you’ve had the discussion with them that is such that they see you as a lesser human.  So yes, there’s a huge amount of emotion but it’s all bottled, the whole lot of it’s bottled and there’s no place for it to go, not in that particular environment.”

Anne Kerr: Feeling Responsible: Managing Translational Biomedical Research

Biomedical scientists are increasingly involved in large interdisciplinary research consortia with clinical practitioners and industrial partners in order to accelerate innovations to market. At the same time, research governance structures are developing to incorporate the requirement for responsible innovation, alongside other ethical and risk-management processes.  This involves scientists in new ways of working and feeling about their work, particularly the requirement to consider how it might affect patients or consumers, and to ensure that any resulting technologies are used appropriately, for maximum public benefit. A range of management technologies have evolved to ensure projects are suitably productive and user-oriented, technologies which are designed to invoke feelings of responsibility to the research collective, the institution and the patient/consumer. Drawing on a qualitative study of a biomedical research programme, this paper will explore how these affective technologies work in practice, considering the kinds of feelings and caring practices they evoke and how these circulate and are managed within the research collective. I will end by exploring the implications of this analysis for critiques of the neoliberal academy.

Shirley Tate: Technologies of Terror: Women in Prison

“They came onto the wing, and door by door they started to open the doors.   10 or 12 screws, held down the prisoner, stripped them. I mean sit on them, strip them and at this stage there was a lot of physical stuff going on and heads being banged off the walls, the floor, being trailed, you know,  being hurt, arms being twisted because you’re fighting them.  So at this stage then we started all to barricade our doors because we knew that’s what’s going to happen and it went on one by one for 10 or 12 hours.  I never experienced anything like it in my life and I think what was more traumatic was the screaming of the women, and then being trailed up the wing, maybe half clothed and being put into the Social… which would have been a recreational space.”

Karen Throsby: Measuring the Swimming Body

As a sport, marathon swimming is characterised by both a strong allegiance to a de-technologised encounter with ‘nature’ and a commitment that is simultaneously regulatory and affective to technologies of mapping, measurement and visual record. These technologies include thermometers, GPS systems, stroke and lap counters, as well as more traditional forms of documentation such as handwritten navigational notes, photographs and video. In this paper, I argue that these technologies for measuring the body and its movements in and across aquatic spaces perform a number of intersecting functions: they serve as a currency of belonging within both virtual and face-to-face swimming communities; they provide specific forms of socially valued evidence that marks swims (and swimmers) as ‘authentic’; and they provide the basis for the memorialisation of swims through the post-swim production of affectively potent objects and practices (charts, tattoos, videos, blogs).

Alexa Athelstan: Queer Feminine Affect Aliens: Disabled Femmes Rearticulating Queer Femininities Through Justified Anger at Ableism

This paper explores the politics of articulations of righteous femme anger by queer feminine affect aliens who occupy liminal spaces on the margins of feminist, queer and femme belonging, due to their disabled femme positionalities. Drawing on one example from my PhD research, namely Peggy Munson’s (in Burke, 2009: 28-36) essay “Fringe Dweller: Toward an Ecofeminist Politic of Femme,” the paper examines the positioned nature of justified anger at dynamics of oppression and exclusions from within our own queer, feminist and femme communities. It addresses the affective tensions articulated by those queer feminine subjects occupying affectively alien(ated) spaces of (un)belonging that situate them in between solidarity and resistance, as well as the affective loaded states of affinity and disidentification. Inspired by José Esteban Muñoz’s (1999) Disidentifications, Sarah Ahmed’s (2006) Queer Phenomenology, Audre Lorde’s (1984) conceptualisation of anger as a justified response to oppression in ‘The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism’ and ‘Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred and Anger,’  as well as Sara Ahmed’s (2010) concepts of the ‘affect alien’ and the ‘feminist killjoy,’ this paper hopes to take Ahmed’s figure of the affect alien in a new direction by discussing the perspectives of the political figuration of “the angry queer crip femme” who is (implicitly, if not explicitly) denied access to certain typical forms of queer and femme technologies of embodiment and beautification, as well as subcultural technologies involved in the construction of queer feminine identities, representations, communities, spaces, recognition and belonging.

Attendance is free. If you are interested in attending this event we need you to register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/affective-technologies-tickets-10815711083

For further information about this event, please contact Alexa Athelstan: igsaa@leeds.ac.uk

This entry was posted in Events.

© Copyright Leeds 2018