By Deborah Lupton (auth.)
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Additional info for The Social Worlds of the Unborn
They have also displayed the body of a pregnant woman with her skin removed and her abdomen cut open to display the eightmonth-old foetus within. All of these are medical specimens or cadavers which have been donated to science and treated with the process of plastination (in which the water and fat in a cadaver or body part are drained away and replaced with polymer plastic materials that preserve the specimens). The display of these plastinated unborn cadavers has caused some consternation and controversy, with some commentators arguing that putting dead human bodies – and particularly those of unborn entities – on display was repellent.
There is, therefore, a significant contradiction between two of the contemporary dominant definitions of the embryo: that which represents them as already fully persons and as already infants, and that which positions them as dehumanised therapeutic or research material. It is the conflict inherent in these definitions that is at the heart of the emotions and controversy aroused by these newer medico–scientific ways of treating and thinking about the unborn. Concluding comments This chapter has addressed the contingencies of unborn assemblages, emphasising that the ways in which we configure, think about and treat them are subject to change over time and across cultures and social worlds.
The television documentaries made using Nilsson’s work bore titles which also referred to the miraculous nature of conception and development of the unborn body to maturity, as in ‘The Miracle of Life’, ‘The Odyssey of Life’ and ‘Life’s Greatest Miracle’ (Stormer 2008). Conception and development are represented in the works produced by Nilsson and Tsiaras as hazardous journeys in which danger lurks at every turn and many things can go wrong, halting progression (Stormer 2008: 664). 1057/9781137310729 The Social Worlds of the Unborn concert with those produced by ultrasound technologies, contribute to the ‘biotourism’ approach to the foetal body, in which awe and wonder are inspired by the glorious vistas of inside the uterus, a mysterious and foreign space to which viewers are now able to have visual access (Kroløkke 2010, 2011).