Dissertation Grant: Medical Technologies and Social Identities

Project: Research project

Project Details


This research examines the tailoring of medical interventions to social identities and the meanings of these interventions across two different multicultural societies -- the U.S. and Malaysia. It does so through a focused investigation of ethnic cosmetic surgery, an elective practice that changes patients' appearance through modification of physical markers associated with racial identity. As I previously found (Menon 2013), ethnic cosmetic surgery makes use of technological manipulation of one's physical appearance to conform to ethnic-specific norms. This research investigates how surgeons and surgeons in multicultural societies conceive of racial and gender difference, taking an STS approach that incorporates attention to invocations of expertise, technology, and standards. Through systematic observations of clinical encounters in cosmetic surgery clinics and interviews with surgeons and patients at both sites, the study investigates how surgeons and patients relate specific physical features to group identities such as race and gender. The comparison between the two countries highlights the variable effects of markets and healthcare systems on medical practice and the body in an era of globalization and modernity, and how medicine in multicultural societies is affected by and re-shapes racial, cultural, and even national identities.
Effective start/end date3/15/162/28/19


  • National Science Foundation (SES-1556591)


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