This year so many of our conferences have gone virtual. While we are excited about the possibilities this affords in terms of rethinking the conference, we are also aware of the limitations of online meet-ups, especially if they attempt to be digital replicas of the in-person conference rather than creatively different events. We are working in various ways with experiments at our conferences and at the same time recognise we need to find different audiences for our work and to engage in conversations about it. As part of this we will share our accepted conference abstracts in this logbook and invite people to get in touch however they wish if they want to explore these ideas further with us. To begin with we are posting our accepted abstracts for the EASST/STS (formerly Prague) 2020 annual conference (one of the bigger STS conferences in our field), starting with Anna’s:
Making the measuring body
Medicine has long been criticised by STS for its measuring practices. The racist use of tools such as measuring tapes, even in today’s public health programs, has shown to problematically shape the worlds measured and overshadow alternative narratives (García-Meza and Yates-Doerr 2020/Yates-Doerr and García-Meza 2020). To date, focus has been on the clinician/healthcare worker/medical researcher at work, with their tools of measurement to hand. In this paper I step back into the training of clinicians. I draw on ethnographic fieldwork in medical schools (part of a larger project, Making Clinical Sense) where bodies as standards of measurement are continually formed and calibrated. I look at how, through the very same instrument that interests critical scholars of metrics – measuring tapes – numbers get implicated into doctors’ embodied knowledge. With this soft and flexible tape, medical students learn to calibrate their own sensory knowledge as they measure lung expansion, gestation on plastic models and the length of their fingers. In doing so they create their own bodies as the standard or measure of things (Hoel and Carusi 2018). I suggest that unpacking this inexpensive teaching device, part of medical knowledge creation that wraps itself around and into bodies, offers new insights into the study of metrics in medicine (Adams 2016). Tracing the making of measuring bodies, as well as measured bodies opens up questions about the implications of the sociomateriality of learning, the politics of using one’s own body as standard, and the never-ending quest for the numerical objectification of sensory knowing.