Call for 4S Papers: Diagnosing Death: Critical STS Perspectives

Advances in life-sustaining and monitoring technologies unavoidably problematize our understandings of dying, death and the range of conscious states in between which, increasingly, are defined through the use of technologically mediated assessments (e.g., coma, persistent vegetative state, MCS). The resultant ethical, economic, and cultural difficulties which attend the promise and perils of technologically mediated death and dying disrupt our notions of personhood, identity, and social obligation even as they tend to increase the length–though less often the quality–of life.

This panel invites papers which use critical, ethnographically informed STS theory and methods to interrogate and explore the technologies, networks, and interstitial spaces in and by which states of consciousness are assessed, the stages of dying are determined, and death pronounced. This panel also invites papers which interrogate the cascade of technologically mediated procedures which often follow, e.g., cessation of palliative care or life support, organ harvesting. Papers which examine institutional settings, practices, and rationale as they relate to specific technological devices (e.g., EEG, Bispectral Indexing) as nodes in diagnostic systems converging on death and dying are encouraged. This panel particularly welcomes papers that explore these topics across a range of cultural and socioeconomic domains and reflect on the ways in which critical perspectives rooted in STS may reflexively inform and configure technologically mediated assessments of dying, death and the states between.

Due: February 1, 2019

Contact Dylan Lott, Center for Healthy Minds/University of Wisconsin-Madison, for more information.