The politics of healthcare, otherness and more-than-human worldmaking

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


At first the question posed by Thackray’s exhibition, ‘Can Robots Care?’, seems to be an invitation to fathom whether robots can be programmed to care – as a kind of ethical conundrum – can they have the empathy and sensibility not just the practical skills and so on to be able to care. In this both care and what it is to be human (let alone a minded human) seems to be being enacted in very particular ways.

In this paper I take a slightly different direction. While addressing the symposium’s themes of relationality and responsibility in More-than-Human-Worlds, I begin by exploring how in the politics of healthcare systems, practices and processes can be understood as entangled, social-technical and affective co-constructions that already make room for the robotic. Thus by examinine how and when how healthcare is done is already making room for the robotic, my aim is to problematise the politics of care by suggesting healthcare is increasingly effected by the alignment between transhumanism and libertarian capitalism, driven by profit.

I go on to shift the perspective of humanism and transhumanism, suggesting with Latour that we have never been modern and with Haraway that we have never been Human. I explore how we can think with the imaginary of more-than-human world-making, including understanding the mundane processes of inclusion, exclusion and Othering that they enact. In contrast to transhumanist imaginaries, I offer a posthuman perspective of more-than-human world-making that problematises and probes the affects and effects of socio-technical assemblages and associations as ways and means – and propose a way of seeing them as intimate entanglements that do or don’t co-create care as an emergent property. This requires us to shift our view of what is ethical – not as the big ethics of bioethicists – but as more to do with ethos and as undecidable in advance. Finally, I press keeping alongside Otherness to get us beyond hu(Man) and as a condition of possibility for more-than-human caring.
Event titleFutures of Care: Relationality and Responsibility in More-than-Human-Worlds
8 April 2022, Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds
Event typeConference
LocationLeeds, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational