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The Technos├┤mata Project

Exeter-Berlin 2019-2021

The Technosômata Project was launched in spring 2019, on the basis of a research collaboration between the university of Exeter and the Humboldt university in Berlin. The Project hosts four workshops which take place both in Exeter and Berlin.

The project introduces the notion of the technosôma (techno body) into scholarly debates on the representations of the ‘natural’ body, gender and sexuality. A techno body is not a given body by nature and modified through techniques/technologies (such as such as cosmetics, gymnastics, pharmaceutics and various tools and devices that belong to the realm of enhancement technologies). The techno body is an inherently technological body. As such, it represents the embodiment of the inextricability of the ‘natural’ and the artificial or technical. Techno bodies tend to align with normative ideas about gender, and sexuality since body modification and/or enhancement techniques work hand in hand with economic and political power and traditional knowledge. On the other hand, the techno body is shaped according to individual needs and wants, i.e. according to a certain lifestyle, is severed from reproduction and finally, is sensitive to a normative representation of a body that associates sex and gender, and erotic value to criteria of ‘naturalness’.

By introducing the category of the technosôma, the project purports to elucidate two main points. Firstly, ancient techno bodies show that the categories of gender and sexuality are at the core of the intersection of the natural and the technological. Secondly, by focusing on technology in the specific form of body modification techniques, the project suggest that new body technologies have in fact a very ancient history that can help to address the challenges of contemporary body technologies.

The first technosomata workshop was organised by Dr Maria Gerolemou and took place in Exeter on the 7th of June 2019. It explored the ways that technology (broadly defined) produces, configures or reshapes gender and sexuality in the Greco Roman world. Cosmetics, prosthetics, athletics, pharmaceutics and sexual tools or machines (e.g. dildos, mirrors, adornment: clothes, and jewellery) can all be considered in terms of enhancement technologies with a variety of aims, including longevity, and at healthier and improved appearance. The workshop included the talks of Dr Giulia Maria Chesi (HU Berlin), Dr Martin Devecka (UC Santa Cruz), Dr Maria Gerolemou (Exeter), Dr Alessia Guardasole (CNRS, Paris), Dr Daniel King (Exeter), Dr Genevieve Liveley (Bristol), Professor Karen Ni Mheallaigh (Johns Hopkins), Dr Francesca Spiegel (HU, Berlin), Dr Laurence Totelin (Gardiff).

The second technosomata workshop was co-organised by Dr João Florêncio and Professor Luna Dolezal and took place in Exeter on the 13th and 14th of June 2019. It explored relationships between the body, sex and technology in contemporary culture with a focus on drugs, prosthesis, assisted reproductive technologies, sex robots, and 21st-century sex media. It included talks by Professor Kane Race (University of Sydney), Professor Margarita Shildrick (Stockholm University), Dr Sebastian Mohr (Karlstad University), Professor Clarissa Smith (University of Sunderland), and Rebecca Saunders (King’s College London).

The third technosomata workshop was co-organised by Dr Giulia Maria Chesi and Dr Francesca Spiegel. It took place in Berlin on the 24th and 25th of October 2019 and included the talks of Dr Irene Cala (LMU Munich), Dr Giulia Maria Chesi (HU Berlin), Dr Martin Devecka (UC Santa Cruz), Dr Maria Gerolemou (Exeter), Dr Yuk Hui (Bauhaus University, Weimar), Dr Genevieve Liveley (Bristol), Professor Karen Ni Mheallaigh (Johns Hopkins), Dr Francesca Spiegel (HU Berlin) and Dr Chiara Thumiger (Kiel). The workshop explored how ancient technosomata are incorporated in a narrative structure, with particular attention to the affective responses they release.

After a period of silence because of COVID-19, we are back with the fourth technosomata workshop which will take place in Berlin, on the 5th and 6th of July. The interdisciplinary symposium Technosomata. Transhistorical and Intersectional Perspectives proceeds from two premises. First, that the intersection of technologies, bodies, gender, race, class, sexuality, and reproduction is a facet of ancient just as much as modern cultures, and can be studied across various historical periods. Second, that these complex and long histories and the debates around them can deliver both genealogical as well as context-specific insights from particular times and cultures. It includes the talks of Dr Giulia Maria Chesi (HU Berlin), Dr Hannah Fitsch (TU Berlin), Dr João Florêncio (Exeter), Dr Maria Gerolemou (Exeter), Ute Kalender (Charite Berlin/ Gen-ethisches Netzwerk), Dr habil. Sigrid Schmitz (HU Berlin), Dr Sofia Varino (HU Berlin). For more information and the registration link see: https://www.gender.hu-berlin.de/de/veranstaltungen/technosomata

 

The Technosomata Team (in alphabetical order)

Exeter

  1. Professor Kate Fisher (Department of History, k.fisher@exeter.ac.uk)
  2. Dr João Florêncio (Department of Art History and Visual Culture, J.Florencio@exeter.ac.uk)
  3. Dr Maria Gerolemou (Department of Classics and Ancient History, m.gerolemou@exeter.ac.uk)
  4. Professor Rebecca Langlands (Department of Classics and Ancient History, r.langlands@exeter.ac.uk)

Humboldt-University of Berlin

  1. Dr Giulia Maria Chesi (Department of Classics, gmchesi@googlemail.com)
  2. Dr. Gabriele Jähnert (Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies, gabi.jaehnert@gender.hu-berlin.de
  3. Dr. habil. Sigrid Schmitz (Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies, sigrid.schmitz@hu-berlin.de)
  4. Dr Sofia Varino (HU Berlin, varino.sofia@gmail.com)

More information

If you have any queries, please contact Dr Maria Gerolemou.