Sticky Objects: Towards an Imploded Global History of Sensory Education in Medicine.


Doctors need to learn how to make clinical sense, and they do so in a material world (Latour 2004). Learning sensing in medicine is locally specific and tied up in global partial connections, where sensorality may, or may not, cross borders. This paper draws from a comparative ethnographic and historical project that examines how doctors learn sensory skills of diagnosis. Four researchers are conducting ethnographic and oral history research within and across fieldsites in Hungary, Ghana and the Netherlands. The challenge: how, individually and together, to not only follow sensory traces of learning at and beyond each site but also work with acts of comparison across time and place. Inspired by Dumit/Haraway’s pedagogical strategy for teaching “fuller world histories” through implosion, this paper will enter this question through the imploded histories of three objects from the fieldsites: a knitted uterus, a leather gynaecology mannequin and a hand-painted poster. Each of these objects are involved in teaching medical students about examining the female reproductive system, including how to know bodies through drawing, seeing, touch and movement. The paper teases out the objects’ imploded histories to unsettle some “sticky economic, technical, political, organic, historical, mythic, and textual threads that make up [their] tissues” (Haraway 1997 in Dumit 2014). In doing so it aims to instigate a comparative confrontation that raises important questions about the global politics and materiality of learning sensing in medicine, as well as reflexivity about the difficult process of conducting comparison (Deville, Guggenheim and Hrdličková 2016) in sensory STS


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Contributed date

January 20, 2019 - 6:18am

Critical Commentary

This is an abstract was subbmited to the 2018 4S Anuual Confrence held in Sydney, by Anna Harris and John Nott of Maastricht University. It was presented in the session titled "Sensing Beyond Borders." 

The abstract was selcted as it holds key topic of Intreset to the contributors research.  that being Medical Pedagogical Techinces and sensory STS. 


Submited abstract for the TRANSnational STS, 4S 2018 Annual Conference held at Sydney International Convication Center. Session Titled "Sensing Beyond Borders"



Cite as

Anna Harris and John Nott, "Sticky Objects: Towards an Imploded Global History of Sensory Education in Medicine. ", contributed by Parikshith Shashikumar, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 20 January 2019, accessed 29 June 2022.