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Durham e-Theses
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The Prosthetic Body: Disabled, Posthuman, a Cyborg, or Still Human?

KATARA, BOTSA (2021) The Prosthetic Body: Disabled, Posthuman, a Cyborg, or Still Human? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



From the middle of the twentieth century there has been a huge surge in the production and development of prosthetic devices. This transformation in prosthetic technology is a radical departure from earlier technologies, beginning in the nineteenth century, whose aim, in serving to correct a physical lack, never involved an ambition to surpass the body itself. This thesis attempts to examine the phenomenological experience of users of more recent embodied technology in the context of
controversial socio-political debates around identity and care that have accompanied these changes.
By considering assistive devices like wheelchairs, crutches, frames, sticks, hearing implants and aids, alongside prosthetic body parts, such as artificial limbs, hair and breasts, this thesis examines issues around accessibility, availability, and usability. The argument seeks to foreground the vital importance of reinstating a phenomenology of living with prosthetic devices as a key criterion for designing and manufacturing prosthetics. To this end, this study critiques theoretical perspectives that have informed recent approaches to prosthesis in disabilitity studies – New Materialism, Posthumanism, and Transhumanism – arguing that such orientations serve to divert focus from individual embodied experiences to build misdirected narratives of hyper-functionality, super- cripping, and superhuman vitality.
By analysing literary and autobiographical experiences of living with physical impairments and embodied devices, this thesis demonstrates that failure and vulnerability are the primal conditions of human existence and the so-called transcendence of human vulnerability through technology is neither possible nor desirable.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Jan 2022 09:10

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