Body Worlds and the Social Life of the Plastinated Body: Considerations on the Biotechnology of Plastination

  • Elisabeth Rondinelli


In this chapter, I argue that the controversies following the Body Worlds exhibition can be situated within a biotechnological framework and, in so doing, represent the tension between the continuing authority of scientific imperatives and the postmodern or late modern concern with a more multiple—and capacious—understanding of the interconnection between scientific developments and socio-cultural life. Drawing on literature on biotechnology, actor-network theory, technological utopianism, and the intersection of culture, technological innovation, and the body, I delve into the exhibition’s eminently social character by recognizing that the plastinates themselves—as objects that reflect a particular biotechnological capacity to suspend the natural marks of biological death and, by extension, to alter the status of the dead body—possess “social lives” that refuse to be reduced to mere extensions of von Hagens’ scientific imagination.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Rondinelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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