Machinic Bodies, 21 March 2013 @ IISC

Machinic Bodies as Boundary Bodies: Reflections on the Impact of Body-Machine Images on Human Self-Understanding. Invited presentation at the The Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, 21 March 2013.


“Man as Industrial Palace” (1926) is the title of probably the most famous of Fritz Kahn’s, a German gynecologist, body illustrations. It was published as part of the five volume book series “The Life of Man” (Kahn 1922-1931) in which Kahn heavily draws on machine analogies to explain the inner workings of the body to an audience not familiar with professional or detailed medical and anatomical knowledge. This paper will argue that machinic and technological bodies need to be understood as boundary bodies: but not as bodies that are neither human nor machine, but as bodies that seem to be easy to categories but defy all categorization. They are bodies on the verge of becoming yet not becoming. Based on Kahn’s illustrations, it will conclude with some reflections on how boundary-bodies and bodies-on-the-verge are “making humans”.

An MP3 audio recording is available through IISC.