Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationConcordia U.
Grant numberGr. 9289
Approve DateApril 19, 2016
Project TitleDoerksen, Mark D., Concordia U., Montreal, Canada - To aid research on 'The New Humans: Emerging Theories and Practices of Sensory Modification,' supervised by Dr. Kregg Hetherington
Preliminary abstract: Grinders are self-described as people who take part in do-it-yourself experimental surgeries to implant electronic technology into their bodies in order to enhance their sensory abilities and transcend their corporal limits. The engineered human/machine hybrid of these implants opens up both potential for new sensory abilities and forms of communication, as well as concomitant possibilities for outside influence and interference from the resulting networks. Without any official oversight, grinders experiment on their bodies yet must also navigate the largely online grinder scene to establish collaborative opportunities and share experiences necessary for projects to succeed. Borrowing from McLuhan’s (1988) theories of technology and media, and Law’s (2004) methods as reality-building, I examine the relationship between grinders’ implants and the worlds their senses create by asking: What socio-material networks does the implant enhance, amplify, or intensify? What does it make obsolete or lessen the importance of? What does it recover from previous historical sensory conceptions? This ethnography focuses on the projects of grinders where implants are designed to deliver information into the body (e.g. magnet implants that sense electromagnetic fields) and/or out of the body (e.g. implants that sense biometric data) to challenge what some scholars have described as dominance of the visual over other senses.