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Everyday Cyborgs: Men with implanted/transplanted hair (and its Eigensinn)

Tue, August 18, 10:00 to 11:40am CEST (10:00 to 11:40am CEST), virPrague, VR 04

Abstract

In recent years techno-medical reconfigurations of men’s bodies, an example to which are interventions in balding due to aging (Syzmczak& Conrad 2006), has medicalized men’s bodies and thus masculinities A reason for this is that cosmetic surgery has become not only more accessible (Edmonds 2009) but also more popular among men with hair transplantations/implantations being one of the most chosen cosmetic surgical procedures by men (American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2019).
Extending the focus on ‘body companion technology’ from the concrete technologies implanted into/on the body/ies, towards including emerging biotechnical entities, such as (synthetic) hair and its implantation/transplantation processes, this research focuses on men’s bodies and their materialization as ‘everyday cyborgs’ through hair implantation/transplantation procedures.
Concentrating on men undergoing such procedures in clinics in Turkey and Iran, we argue that these procedures could be regarded as empowerment of vulnerable subjects for they enable self-actualization. As these procedures are embedded in a web of biopolitical currents (i.e. economy, professional settings, etc.), consolidation of gender differences through the reproduction of a particular type of masculinity could be underway.
Considering the self-will (Eigensinn) of the bios, and thus hair, our complementary to the body companion technology concept helps to see hair as biotechnical entity, with the agency to reject its new territory, requiring ongoing care on part of the patient’s body. Thus, this research conceptualizes the techno-medical (re)locations of hair in men’s bodies within a socio-bio-technical framework and scrutinizes how and the ways in which these ‘everyday cyborg’ bodies deal with emergent vulnerabilities.

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