Prosthetic Configurations and Imagination: Dis/ability, Body, and Technology

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Department of English, NTNU


Prosthesis has been a useful medium for thinking about the identity of people with disabilities, who often rely on artificial devices in their daily lives. Recent advances in technology have altered the biological body via so-called enhancement technologies, which can augment bodily forms and functions to improve human characteristics. Given its corrective abilities, prosthesis has become the “interconstitutive” point which links body and machine, blurring the borderline between normal and abnormal, abled and disabled, human andcyborg. People with disabilities are no longer the only ones using prostheses to fix their bodily deficiencies; non-disabled people need them even more to modify their “imperfect” bodies. Being human, as Lennard Davis points out, has become “an aspect of supplementarity” (69). The essay will take a biocultural approach to the study of the scientificized and medicalized body to construct a dialectical discourse between ableism and dis/ability, the natural body and the artificial hybrid, humanity and technology, and related issues. Concurrently critiquing, historicizing, and theorizing prosthetics, the essay lays out a balanced and complex picture of the merging of flesh, machine, and subject, and, by doing so, offers a reconceptualization of dis/ability and post/humanity in a futurist society from the perspectives of materiality, metaphoricity, and reflexivity of prosthetics.