Health, Technology and Society
cover

From Measuring Rods to DNA Sequencing

Assessing the Human

Editors: Voléry, Ingrid, Julien, Marie-Pierre (Eds.)

  • Offers an original approach to the metrology of human bodies and to individual and group classification/identification, cutting across sociology, biomedical science, biotechnology studies and the anthropology of material culture
  • Uniquely examines measurements of age, a topic so far neglected by researchers who have tended to focus on gender or racialization
  • Alternating theoretical and historical contributions with contemporary case studies, this book will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers and historians working in the fields of science, medicine, techniques, gender, racialization and age, and also postgraduate students following specialties in these fields and professionals or civil society actors intervening on these issues (NGOs, forensics, health practitioners, etc.)
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eBook $89.00
price for USA
  • The eBook version of this title will be available soon
  • Due: January 23, 2021
  • ISBN 978-981-15-7582-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format:
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
Hardcover $119.99
price for USA
About this book

This book provides a solid basis to understand two centuries of bodily measurement practices and their scientific and political scope throughout the Western world. By exploring various cases, it proposes a new approach of measurement from an epistemological point of view and demonstrates the central role of the measurement of the body for political purposes. By studying categorizations of race, age and quality of life between the 19th and 20th century, the first part of the book highlights how human body measurements extend from the flesh to subjective experience. The second part shows how genomic correction and life support technologies reshape the frontiers between things, humans and social subjects. The final part reveals how contemporary measurements of age, race and disease gave rise to new hierarchies between human beings and social groups. The book concludes by considering different styles of measuring the body and their ontological consequences.

About the authors

Ingrid Voléry is full professor of sociology at the Université de Lorraine and member of Laboratoire Lorrain de Sciences Sociales (2L2S). 
Marie-Pierre Julien is lecturer of sociology and anthropology at the Université de Lorraine and member of 2L2S.

Reviews

“This collection is more than a sum of its superb studies at various sites, ranging from bone age in nineteenth century forensic medicine to intensive care units today, of the measurement and mis-measurement of the human body.  Together these studies provide a window into how we know and think about what it means, politically and ethically, to be embodied in the modern age.” (Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of California Berkeley)

“Why do you measure and why are you also measured? What measurement tools are used to offer a quantified vision of the body and its parts, its growth, and of human life itself? Is measurement the same thing as quantification? Based on in-depth historical investigations and case studies from the 19th century up to the present day, this book proposes enlightening answers to such questions. Combining basic insight from the ‘classics’—Foucault, Rose—on the political dimension of measurement with contextualizing epistemologies, it brilliantly shows how ontologies emerge from various social ‘assemblages’.” (Marie Gaille, philosopher, senior researcher, Université de Paris-CNRS)
From Measuring Rods to DNA Sequencing is a masterful series of explorations into the biopolitics of bodily measurement, exposing the scientific truths of patterns, curves, averages, biomarkers, probabilities, weights, and standards as templates of imperialist modernity itself. Ingrid Voléry and Marie-Pierre Julien have created an inspiring text, compelling readers to rethink the power of quantifying knowledges in the history of human governance, while pointing ahead to liberating transformations of what it means to be human.” (Professor Stephen Katz, Trent University, Canada)

“This book splendidly shows to what extent the measurement of the body is a complex operation: it is part of a system of social transactions, it is shaped by situated configurations of knowledge, it organizes cognitive and technical conditions under which bodies can be scientifically appropriated. By rooting epistemological reflection in the historicity of tools, practices and institutional and disciplinary spaces, this book powerfully enriches the field of the political, social, and intellectual history of the modes of production of the body.” (Rafael Mandressi, historian, senior researcher, CNRS-EHESS)

Buy this book

eBook $89.00
price for USA
  • The eBook version of this title will be available soon
  • Due: January 23, 2021
  • ISBN 978-981-15-7582-2
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format:
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
Hardcover $119.99
price for USA

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
From Measuring Rods to DNA Sequencing
Book Subtitle
Assessing the Human
Editors
  • Ingrid Voléry
  • Marie-Pierre Julien
Series Title
Health, Technology and Society
Copyright
2021
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
eBook ISBN
978-981-15-7582-2
DOI
10.1007/978-981-15-7582-2
Hardcover ISBN
978-981-15-7581-5
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
IV, 238
Number of Illustrations
6 b/w illustrations
Topics