Sunday, October 6, 2013


The last localism, that of the body, has already been invaded by DNA mining among indigenous peoples. In the wealthy West, the rich already treat their bodies as alien environments to be protected from unruly immigrations of pollution and illness. There is an increasing democratisation of body modification, a process that converts body parts into property ('I don't like my nose'). As we have begun to express a concern with stewardship over the external environment, we hear almost the same language used to describe a relationship – how can we have a relationship? – with our bodies: looking after the body, grooming the body, feeding the body the right foods and drugs. This is as far from a Socratic care of the self as we can imagine. Not only the human biomass, the object of epidemiology, but the individual bodies that compose it have become alien environments to be inhabited, tended as necessary, exploited where possible.

From 'Privations, Secretions', a talk at the Biomediations symposium at Goldsmiths organised by Joanna Zylinska: the videos now online at

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