Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Medicine as moral technology: somatic economies and the making up of adoptees.

Medicine as moral technology: somatic economies and the making up of adoptees.

Med Anthropol. 2014;33(2):109-27

Authors: van Wichelen S


This article focuses on adoption medicine as a subject of scientific knowledge that increasingly defines the parameters of adoptability in the world of international adoption. While this biomedical discourse alludes to the health of adoptee bodies, it also constitutes ethico-moral practices that produce new justificatory regimes of adoption in particular and humanitarianism in general. Drawing on discourse analysis of scientific texts in adoption medicine on the one hand, and interviews and ethnographic data from a Dutch adoption agency on the other, I demonstrate the emergence of a new moral economy facilitating the legitimacy of international adoption. I argue that this moral economy retools the humanitarian justification of international adoption by privileging the politics of "life itself." This paradigmatic shift constructs new categories of adoptee bodies, rearranges orders of worth, and makes visible biopolitical techniques of morality in present-day humanitarian discourse.

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