This April we are happy to welcome Dr. Alexandra Middleton. Her research explores peoples’ lived experiences with highly experimental science and embodied technologies. Her work integrates feminist studies of science and technology, embodiment studies, neuroscience, disability studies, sensory ethnography, design anthropology and creative nonfiction. Middleton’s first book project, The Connector, follows the first people to live with intimately integrated neuromusculoskeletal prosthetic limbs in Sweden. Her work has appeared in journals such as Frontiers in Neurorobotics, BioSocieties, and the Journal of Pain Research, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the European Research Council, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Princeton’s Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, and the Marie-Sklodowkska Curie Fellowship (beginning in 2024). Middleton is also a creative nonfiction writer whose essays have recently appeared in The Rumpus and Entropy. She is the founder and facilitator of WITHIN, embodied somatic writing workshops for writers and artists that weave somatic attunement, meditation, and creative writing.
How we appreciate where our bodies exist in relation to the surrounding world may ultimately be defined by how our bodies collide with what is around us: the glass ceiling, the hot pot, the hammer on the thump. The Swedish writer Helena Granström elaborates in her essay To reach the World – the painful experience of living life to the full (Translated from ”Att nå fram till världen – om den smärtsamma längtan efter att få leva fullt ut”, on how the borderline of the body is pain. The question is then, how do you reconsider the self and the body, when living with intimately integrated replacement body parts? How does pain function not only as pathology, but also as a messenger? Can sensory experience be reverse-engineered? Alexandra explores, as a researcher and writer, the embodied experiences of the first humans living with highly experimental prostheses, expanding beyond the narrow science-fiction imaginaries (the Cyborg, Terminator, or Darth Vader) conjured by human-machine relations to reveal an intimate, peopled portrayal of a science-in-the-making.