Author: Alison Buckler
Type: Undergraduate coursework (drug information leaflet), University of Birmingham, UK.
Availability: in full, below.
Full reference: Buckler, A. (2004) Cyborg information leaflet: Thyroxine 50 microgram tablets. followthethings.com (www.followthethings.com/thyroxine.shtml last accessed <insert date here>)
The thing about research defetishising food, as critics have pointed out lately (e.g. Goss 2006), is that ...what’s studied is usually lavishly fetishised in advertising, product design and consumption. The commodities chosen are often the ones whose consumption is supposed to ‘take you there’. You know, tropical fruits or Jamaican food (Cook et al 2004; Cook & Harrison 2003). We have to take on board these criticisms. For me, because these things are much more a part of my life/self/body as subjects to research and write about, than they are things to buy, eat, cook with, digest and so on. As Karen Bakker and Gavin Bridge (2006) have suggested, what’s being neglected in this broader literature are things that are more ubiquitous and important but perhaps less ‘obvious’ or ‘interesting’. Like stainless steel. What are the imaginative geographies at work in their public fetishisation? Have you ever washed up in a Belgian sink? It really takes you there. And that Chinese lift door? Reminds me of that holiday I took... Ah. So, I’ve been thinking lately, what about the stuff that I really need, but have no idea what it’s made from, what relations with whom/what/where it might embody, what new aspects of material/semiotic, hybrid/cyborg selfhood might be mobilised and/or recognised through finding out, and why/how this might be of relevance or interest to anyone but me? What about commodities that aren't advertised to the public, that others decide that you should buy from whichever company that makes them, that aren't available on any ‘open’ market, that others tell you exactly how, how much and when to consume? Like prescribed medicines. Stuff that might help you to cope with a chronic illness you’ve been diagnosed as having. Commodities that, in a way, choose you. Fit you. Ones that have to be added to your chemical and other selves on a daily basis, to help them to work better than they would otherwise. Hopefully. Stuff that ‘matters’, to you and to others near and far, in every sense of the term. I first came across this idea when Ali Buckler, a student taking my Geographies of material culture module, submitted a journal entry on the thyroxine tablets she took. Through Google-searching their specific ingredients, she’d found some amazing stories about ‘unseen others’ who were helping thyroxine to help her to be herself every day, including Bedouin people, their camels and their camels’ chiropractors. I'd thought that this was brilliantly original at the time. But it wasn’t anything I thought I'd ever try myself. Until about three years ago... (Source: Cook in Anderson, Cook & Maddern 2006, p.21-2).
Anderson, B., Cook, I. & Maddern, J. (2006) Geography and matter/materiality. Briefing paper written for workshop one of the Geography and Matter/Materiality series, University of Birmingham, December 18th (http://materialgeographies.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/birmingham-briefing-paper.pdf last accessed 12 May 2011)
Cairo Cabinet of Ministers (2001) St Katherine Protectorate Veterinary Programme. stkparks.gov.eg (www.stkparks.gov.eg/stk-img-cameltreatment.html last accessed January 2004, page no longer available)
Grieve, M. (1995) Acacia (Gum). in her A modern Herbal. Tiger Books (www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/acaci006.html last accessed 10 May 2011)
[‘Hables-Gray 2002’ in text is] Hables Gray, C., Mentor, S. & Figueroa-Sarriera, H. (1995) Cyborgology: constructing the knowledge of cybernetic organisms. in their (ed.) The cyborg handbook. London: Routledge, 1-14.
Haraway, D. (1991) A cyborg manifesto: science, technology and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century. in her Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge, 149-181 (www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Haraway/CyborgManifesto.html last accessed 16 February 2011)
Kunzru, H. (1997) You are cyborg: for Donna Haraway, we are already assimilated. Wired February (www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffharaway_pr.html last accessed 16 February 2011)
Law, J. & Hetherington, K. (2000) Materialities, spatialities, globalities. in Bryson, J., Daniels, P., Henry, N. & Pollard, J. (eds) Knowledge, space, economy. London: Routledge, 34-49
Scanlan, J. (2002) Chirovetpractic treatment of the camel. chirovetpractic.com 25 January (www.chirovetpractic.com/thecamel.html last accessed 10 May 2011)
Compiled and posted by Ian Cook (last updated May 2011). Page created as coursework for the ‘Geographies of material culture’ module at Birmingham University. Reproduced with kind permission of the author.