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), concluding with Rachel’s, titled ‘Drawing the body: Skill, embodiment, and the senses in anatomy training’.
Drawing the body: Skill, embodiment, and the senses in anatomy training
Rachel Vaden Allison
Anatomy training, together with its elemental practice dissection, has historically been considered a cornerstone of Western medicine and medical education—indeed, often deemed a rite of passage within the latter. Anatomy continues to hold a prominent position within European medical education programmes, often serving as a foundational course within preclinical training, providing novice physicians with their first impression of, and orientation in, the human body. In this paper, I take a step back from contemporary debates surrounding the ethical or practical use (and acquisition) of cadavers, along with any evaluation of the efficacy of high-tech or digital approaches to dissection, and instead explore the use of another prolific, yet often overlooked, pedagogical practice: drawing. Here, I discuss the different forms anatomical drawing takes—including as the ‘simplification’ or ‘schematisation’ of anatomical structures; for the visualisation of ‘virtual space’; to illustrate difficult to manoeuvre areas of the cadaver’s body, such as the pelvic region; and as a means to convey movement and temporality—along with its link to muscular dexterity and memory. In so doing, I provide room to consider the multisensory and embodied nature of skill, learning, and knowledge translation, which drawing affords, showing enskillment outside of (or, at least, alongside) the use of human bodies within anatomical education, and pushing back against cognitive models of medical training and the move towards ‘digitalisation’ in anatomy courses. This paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted during the 2017/2018 academic year at Semmelweis University’s Department of Anatomy, Histology, and Embryology, in Budapest, Hungary.
Area of STS scholarship:
Medicine and Healthcare
Other: Embodiment, skill, and sensory ethnography