Calling Body Modification Academics!

Seeing as things have gotten stupid round here, recently, I hope you’ll excuse me if I temporarily up the pretension academic quotient.

Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia has been running bi-annual conferences for the academic study of body modification and related subjects since 2003, and the next one, entitled ‘Somatechnics’, has just been announced for April 2007.

‘Somatechnics’ is a newly coined term used to highlight the inextricability of soma and techne, of the body (as a culturally intelligible construct) and the techniques (dispositifs and’hard technologies’) in and through which bodies are formed and transformed. This term, then, supplants the logic of the ‘and’, indicating that technes are not something we add to or apply to the body, but rather, are the means in and through which bodies are constituted, positioned, and lived. As such, the term reflects contemporary understandings of the body as the incarnation or materialization of historically and culturally specific discourses and practices, and of activities involving bodies – in medicine, information technology, education, the arts, surveillance, science, law – as fundamentally formative and transformative, cultural and social.

Abstracts (approx 500 words) are invited for papers/performances/panels for the Somatechnics Conference to be held at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia on April 19th-21st 2007. This is the third in a series of bi-annual conferences: previous conferences were Body Modification: Changing Bodies, Changing Selves(2003), and Body Modification Mark II (2005). Somatechnics’ is the inaugural conference of the Somatechnics Project, a research network whose membership is international and cross-disciplinary.

Possible topics include:

  • Body modification/sculpting
  • Performance art
  • Visual art
  • Medical technologies
  • Enhancement technologies
  • Religious rituals
  • Multi-media technologies
  • Transgender practices and procedures
  • Cosmetic/reconstructive surgeries
  • Obesity, anorexia, and/or other body ‘pathologies’
  • Cyborgs
  • Nanotechnology
  • Euthanasia
  • Reproductive technologies
  • Transplant technologies
  • Incarceration
  • Racialization
  • Torture, terrorism
  • Sport
  • Technologies of gender/race/class/etc

Abstracts (of no more than 500 words) should be sent, as email attachments,
Further information:
Body Modification Conference Committee
Department of Critical and Cultural Studies
Macquarie University
North Ryde
New South Wales 2109
Phone: + 61 (0)2 9850 8760

I hear from previous attendees that, as is sadly so often the case amongst those who make their careers trying to understand the modified individual and the modified community in general, the number of people attending this event who are modified themselves is depressingly low. Of the prominent academics in the field, few have more than a small number of token tattoos, and from what I’ve been told of the papers presented in previous years, the insights offered have often been massively wide of the mark.

In light of BME’s current front-page poll, I’m posting this because I know that there an ever-increasing number of modded postgraduates whose research is, or would be, very pertinent to the study of their own community. Although there have been two or three worthwhile and sympathetic academic books on body modification in recent years, not one has been written by a heavily modified individual. Although there are a smattering of PhDs on mods every year, there are, as yet, no high-profile academics with heavy mods.

If you’re an postgraduate or even just a passionate and committed independent researcher, I urge you to consider submitting papers to this event. I’ll be there (whether my paper is accepted or not) and I hope to see more sleeves, tongue splits and implants there than have ever been collected at an academic conference before.

Normal service will now be resumed

19 thoughts on “Calling Body Modification Academics!

  1. A body mod related event I can attend! Yay!

    (I live in close proximity, well relatively anyway, as opposed to my nearness to the BME events…)

  2. I’m not sure about the abstract deadline… when I emailed Nikki Sullivan (whose book is really interesting if you can find a copy!) a few months back she said November or thereabouts… I reckon ASAP is probably wise!

  3. Oh, and while I remember – if there are any suspension teams in Sydney that might be able to help me out in organising a suspension demonstration at some point over that weekend, get in touch with me via IAM, please!

  4. holllllyyy shizzle. i think im gonna be studying abroad in the outback this spring!!! ill definitely go

  5. I am very excited about this conference. Let’s hope I don’t find myself stifling any heckles… Although, maybe that’s a bit optimistic.

    Carry the torch for us well, young jedi.

  6. I wish I could go to this – there’s no way I could make it down there, but I want to go to grad school in sociology so I can specialize and write in modification, especially in both mods as we see them in this atmosphere as well as the constant quest for youth (mainly through plastic surgery).

  7. I’m kind of bummed that my Master’s thesis project won’t be done to submit an abstract for roughly another year. Hopefully it will surface again, I’d love to submit something! Best of luck to everyone that submits, the research done on body modification in psychological journals is definitely lacking.

  8. godDAMN this would be nice to attend. i’m not a post-grad with a research background (yet), but do you think if i impressed them with my knowledge of weird subcultures, they’d fly me out for free?

  9. :)

    oh, would you mind telling me which “worthwhile and sympathetic academic books on body modification in recent years” you refer to? i’d like to hunt them down.

  10. I know there was a proposal put forward by interseted parties in the Aust. mod scene to perform some suspension at the 2005 event but we were refused ? I see many failings in the approach and underlying presumptions of this type study/conference.

  11. Ill be there!! By all means, Im going. The problem though isnt that Im not modified, I just dont look modified. My face, lower arms and lower legs having nothing, But my chest, upper arms, thights and back are all canvases for the artwork Ive laid upon it, in tattoos and brands. Yet, Id still be classified as a non-mod by you wouldnt I?

    See you there!

  12. interesting. I’d love to attend if it doesn’t overlap with the rest of my schedule.

    Academic conferences and their treatment of body modification does normally severely miss the mark and even among progressive scholars their treatment of modified academics sometimes leaves much to be desired. A conference solely devoted to the scholarship of body modification might be a heartening experience.

    On the subject, if anyone reading BME is planning on attending the annual Popular Culture Association conference, I would love to do some real justice to body modification there in light of the severe bias against it I’ve seen in previous years.

  13. Did anyone else reading the first quoted paragraph think of Calvin and Hobbes? “The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!” Hooray for academia in fields which don’t require any intersection with reality. :P

  14. I’ll be there, in some capacity anyway. I’m keen to see what the vibe and attitude will be like.

  15. im so curious about this seminaries. out of money to make it this year..but probably the next one.
    .im so curious about the way who someone explain in academic way about mods and rites.
    I feel so open to learn more
    Please Shannon if u go tall us whats up there!!!

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