Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 197–212 | Cite as

Cancer Knowledge in the Plural: Queering the Biopolitics of Narrative and Affective Mobilities



In this age of DIY Health—a present that has been described as a time of “ludic capitalism”—one is constantly confronted with the injunction to manage risk by means of making healthy choices and of informed participation in various self-surveillant technologies of bioinformatics. Neoliberal governmentality has been redacted by poststructuralist scholars of bioethics as defined by the two-fold emergence of, on the one hand, populations and on the other, the self-determining individual—as biopolitical entities. In this article, we provide a genealogical-phenomenological schematization (GPS analysis) of the narration of cancer in relation to “sexual minority populations.” Canonical discourses concerning minority sexualities are articulated by means of a logic of “inclusion and reification” that organizes the interiorization of norms of embodied relationality, and a positive liaison with biomedical technologies and techniques in the taking up of a rhetorical style of biographical compliance. Neoliberal DIY Health logics conflate participation with agency, and institute norms of recognition that constrain visibility to: citizens who make healthy choices and manage risk, heroic cancer stories, stories of the reconstruction of states of normalcy, or of survival against all odds. Alternatively, we trace the performative articulations of queer narrative practices that constitute an ephemeral, nomadic praxiology—a doing of knowledge in cancer’s queer narration. Queer cancer narrative practices represent a relationship to health and embodiment that is predicated, not on normalcy, but predicated on troubling norms, on artful failure, and on engaging in a kind of affective mapping that might be thought constitutive of a speculative bioethical relation to the self as other.


Queer Bioethics Genealogical-Phenomenological Schematization Cancer Health Disparities Affect Theory Illness Narratives Nomadic Praxiology Bioinformatics Choreography 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social JusticeUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Media and Cultural StudiesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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