CFP for Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Celebrating 50 Years
of Interdisciplinarity, Yale University, September 24-27, 2009

Breakthroughs and Foreclosures: Knowledge, Value, and Temporality in
Technoscience and Medicine

Sponsored by the Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) Interest Group
of the Society for Medical Anthropology.

The question of charting ‘the new’ has been a concern across the social
sciences, philosophy and the biological sciences. This panel seeks to
engage this concern for ‘the new’ by examining ‘breakthroughs’ and
‘foreclosures’ in technoscientific regimes, non-institutional
ethnographic spaces, and clinical sites. We are interested in varying
valuations of ‘the new’ in these different contexts, as well as in how
it is implicated in the temporalities of politics and scientific
practice. We want to put medical anthropologists and anthropologists of
science in conversation with each other through diverse ethnographic
works, ranging from ethnographies of global public health roll-outs, to
bio-scientific and biotechnological knowledge regimes, to local modes of
well-being and care.

By focusing on ‘breakthroughs’ and ‘foreclosures’, we are particularly
interested in how materiality and abstraction in science and medicine
relate to each other, how they are valued and/or produce value
differently, depending on their contexts. How do claims to materiality
and abstraction assert themselves, push back on one another and exist in
both tension and co-constitution with one another? Refracting this set
of questions back on our own discipline, how does anthropology
understand and engage with claims to newness – or the emergent – in our
work? And how might we see the unstable relations between ‘the material’
and ‘the abstract’ in long-standing tensions in anthropology between
ethnographic specificity and theoretical generalization? Inasmuch as
contemporary processes of knowledge production are typically fronted by
claims of ‘breakthrough’, how does ‘newness’ implicate not just
scientific knowledge claims, but our own methods, concepts and
epistemological critiques?

We are calling for abstracts of no more than 300 words that address
problems of newness, value, and temporality in technoscientific regimes,
clinical milieus anthropological knowledge-making. Please address
abstracts (and any questions) to Betsey Brada at <[email protected]>.
Abstracts are due April 1, 2009.

Organizers: Sara Bergstresser, Betsey Brada, Megan Crowley-Matoka &
Clara Han.