Biomedicine, "Body-Writing," and Identity Management
Nelson, Tayler L. “Biomedicine, "Body-Writing," and Identity Management”. MA, Boston College, 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1835.
Biomedicine has become a gatekeeper to numerous social opportunities and has gained power through the ritual inscription of individual bodies. Bodies serve as intermediaries between personal identities and biomedicine; individuals can reclaim bodies as sites of "identity projects" (Giddens 1991) to resist biomedical power. This project examines the intersection of the societal preoccupations with biomedicine, bodies, and identity through the lens of the religious and healing tradition of Christian Science. Christian Science theologically rejects biomedicine in favor of spiritual healing treatment. Christian Science is an especially appropriate venue for exploring relationships between biomedicine, bodies, and identities because its teachings require not only belief in the ineffectiveness of biomedicine but also embodied resistance to it. Drawing on the work of Foucault (1977), Giddens (1991), and Frank (1995) and using information gleaned from semi-structured interviews--averaging 1.5 hours in length--with 12 Christian Scientists, I argue that Christian Scientists use religious identities to (1) evade biomedical risk society, (2) resist external authority and reclaim bodies as sites of knowledge and power, and (3) build spiritual community.