UCL Anthropology


The 21st Century Body Symposium

18 May 2012, 9:00 am–6:00 pm

IMG hand tech

Event Information

Open to


Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Department 14 Taviton Street, University College London Bloomsbury Campus

Friday 18th May 2012

9am to 6pm, followed by a drinks reception

What does it mean to be human in the 21st Century? Are our perceptions of human identity being recast in the light of new scientific and technological developments? Are there, or should there be limits in what we can or should do to ourselves and our bodies?

This symposium will seek to offer answers to some of these questions and in so doing contribute to the conversation on modern conceptions of human identity and perspectives on the human body.

Topics for the day include: virtual identities; privacy, surveillance and authenticity; post-human bodies; cognitive enhancement; environment and society; fertility and reproduction; artificial intelligence systems; ICT implants and prosthetics; converging technologies; animal-human distinctions; genomics and genetic based therapies; neuroscience and neuropharmacology; nanomedicine and care of the ageing; freedom to age with dignity in ageing; ideas about scientific progress.


Schedule and Panels:

Intro: Pete Moore

Panel 1 (Morning):  Redefining social systems: The power of the 21st century urban body

Chair - Yasemin J. Erden

  • Stephen Rainey:  Enhanced, Improved, Perfected?
  • Melanie Newbould:  What is the point of sex?
  • Francis Halsall:  Irritating Social Systems: Luhmann and The Body
  • Matt James:  Turning the body into a passport or password? Changing perceptions of identity in the face of biometrics


Panel 2 (Midday):  The medical gaze: New perceptions of the clinical-medical body

Chair - Aaron, Deborah

  • Julie Grew:  The Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator and wireless patients
  • Yasemin J. Erden: I remember me: Neuroprosthetics, memory and identity
  • Hannah Maslen and Imogen Goold:  Cognitive Enhancement: A Perspective from Law and Medical Ethics
  • Signe Mezinska and Ilze Mileiko:  Metaphors of the infertile body: talking about assisted reproduction in Latvia


Panel 3 (Afternoon):  Reconsidering enhancement:  Technological intimacy and the quest for new human potential

Chair - Matt James

  • Laura Cabrera:  Exponential technologies: between disabled and posthuman bodies
  • Aaron Parkhurst:  Cyborgian Technique: How Scales Transform and Connect Us
  • Deborah Gale:  Reevaluating the role of the aging person: The new longevity
  • Debra Shaw:  Bodies, Machines & Metropolis

Closing Remarks