Somatosphere

  • Book Review: Planetary Health and Artificial Intelligence


    Ways of Being. Animals, Plants, Machines: The Search for a Planetary Intelligence , by James Bridle (Penguin Books, 2023) If you read the cover of James Bridle’s book, you might think it is just another essay on the ontological turn or multispecies ethnography. But James Bridle is not a philosopher or an anthropologist analyzing alternative…

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Somatosphere is a collaborative website covering the intersections of medical anthropology, medical sociology, history of science and medicine, science and technology studies, and cultural psychiatry.

Featured articles

  • Introduction: Book Forum on ‘The Doctor Who Wasn’t There’ and ‘The Distance Cure’


    In this forum, five scholars from different but intersecting fields of historical research engage with Hannah Zeavin and Jeremy Greene’s recent books on telehealth and telemedicine. As all of the contributors highlight, Zeavin and Greene’s books provide inspiring analyses of the potentials and limitations of electronic technologies in medicine and healthcare. In the following, I…

    View article: Introduction: Book Forum on ‘The Doctor Who Wasn’t There’ and ‘The Distance Cure’
  • Learning from the History of Experimental Telehealth


    The increased demand for distant cures amid heightened concerns about infection in healthcare facilities, coupled with the “great resignation” in medicine since the COVID pandemic, have together created the unfortunate circumstances in which we find the American healthcare system in 2024. This is a moment, like many we have seen before, in which new, unproven…

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  • Via media: power and ideology in tele-therapy


    The Distance Cure and The Doctor Who Wasn’t There are political books about medical media. Zeavin offers illuminating analyses of a range of distant psychotherapies: epistolary analysis, telephonic church services, suicide crisis telephone hotlines, computer-based therapies, and e-therapy (what Zeavin calls “therapeutic written speech”). For her, the media involved in these therapies are “active metaphors…

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  • Medicine at a Distance


    “all new media deal in futures” -Jeremy Greene “automation is the dream of autonomy” -Hannah Zeavin It was at once an odd experience and an exhilarating one. Sitting at the edge of the sofa, I leaned over towards the coffee table to turn on my laptop and open the required application. I waited, intermittently checking…

    View article: Medicine at a Distance
  • The Power of Medical Experts’ Distance From Technology


    Hanna Zeavin’s The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy, and Jeremy A. Greene’s The Doctor Who Wasn’t There: Technology, History, and the Limits of Telehealth, are both histories of technology and medicine that question the centrality of the expert as the deciding factor in the success or failure of medical technologies. In Zeavin’s book, the…

    View article: The Power of Medical Experts’ Distance From Technology
  • Seeing and Unseeing


    To read these two brilliant books side by side is an exhilarating experience—they not only offer new historical and theoretical insights into the role of media in clinical care, but they point towards unique (and uniquely thorny) historiographic questions. For as these media wended their way through medical and therapeutic treatments, they also left peculiar…

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  • Media Medica


    The origins of The Doctor Who Wasn’t There are inescapably tangled with The Distance Cure—tangled in cords of telephone wires. The telephone was both the subject and object and medium of our meeting. I had been noticing the iterative updates to the electronic health record in the community health center where I practiced, watching my…

    View article: Media Medica

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Photo credit: Lyndsey Beutin

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