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Clinical dinner

written by Anna Harris
16/11/21

Along with MCS collaborator Kaisu Koski (see our website, conversation partners), and others from the Citizen Surgery Collective (Noemie Soula & Anne van Veen), Anna was one of the multiple recipients of this year’s 4S Making and Doing Awards 2021 this year. They received the award for their video and live surgery lesson “Clinical Dinner: A Virtual Citizen Surgery Training Session”. 4S is one of the main organisations for science and technology studies.

The Making and Doing prize formally acknowledge and celebrate scholarly practices for producing and expressing STS knowledge and expertise that extend beyond the academic paper or book. It recognizes 4S members who have demonstrated scholarly excellence in formulating, enacting, and sharing theoretically-informed practices of participation, engagement, and intervention in their fields of study. The STS Making and Doing program is organized as part of the 4S annual meeting.

The judges said the following about Clinical Dinner: “A live performance of surgery training through the experience of home cooking, for example by baking derma bread. Juxtaposing the skills of cooking/baking with surgery is a feminist demonstration of making and doing with pedagogic significance.” You can read more about the session below, and about the Citizen Surgery Collective here.

Citizen Surgery experiments, image by Kaisu Koski, Noemie Soula & Anne van Veen

Session Abstract
The operation room lights shine brightly in four surgical theatres. The team is connected remotely, streaming live for this Making and Doing session. This is a simultaneous surgical experiment being performed. The machines are beeping, and the atmosphere is tense. “Scalpel!”. Four multicoloured gloves in four different screens pick up sharp instruments – wait, are they kitchen knives? “Swabs!” Are they dishtowels? The surgery continues, virtually, synchronically, the screens focus on the body part being operated on. Until the bizarre last step, when the surgeons put down their instruments and pick up a knife and fork…and diagnose the edible bodies in front of them by taste. These are no ordinary STS scholars nor ordinary surgeons. This is the work of the Citizen Surgery Collective, an interdisciplinary practice-based research group consisting of artists, critical posthumanists and anthropologists. Our work concerns surgical literacy, sensory skills acquisition, simulation, and the relationship between other-than-human bodies and food. In the spirit of the conference theme ‘good relations’ with its exploration of practices and methods for unequal worlds, our work aims to democratise and redistribute surgical skills, discuss asymmetric interspecies power relations at the dinner table, and develop methods for collaborative remote practices.

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