All _Essays

Terror Machines

Social Bots in Struggles for Hegemony in Digital Publics

This essay will elaborate upon the ambivalences of unreliable communication on social networks, using the case study of social bots. Social bots simulate human users in social networks. If they do not give any indication that they are machines, they can be classified as fake accounts. Social bots can be considered opinion robots as they are used strategically to influence discussions on social networks. What users see on their screens today when they consume news portals, social networks and online platforms corresponds to precarious in_visibility.

A_Sociality as a Model Figure of Ambiguity

Being queerly social and cared for holds a promise of belonging. Belonging beyond heteronormativity and coercive normalcy. [1] Yet social relations, no matter how queer they are, are never devoid of indifference, unpredictability, aggression, conflict, or the risk and reality of violence. [2] It is illusory to hope for safe spaces, pure peacefulness or pleasure in bonding and care without aggression or messiness. [3] Therefore, I present queerness as lived ambiguity and […]

Infectious Diseases in Historical Perspective

French Pox Versus Venereal Syphilis

Medical historiography has tended to almost automatically identify the disease that entered European medical and lay writings at the end of the 15th century as morbus gallicus with the present-day condition known as “venereal syphilis.” This identification, which goes back to the invention, in 1530, of the term syphilis as a synonym for morbus gallicus by Girolamo Fracastoro (c. 1478–1553), has been retained by many 19th- and 20th-century medical historians, and there […]

The Illness of Narrative

Reframing the Question of Limits

This paper uses Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as the starting point for a critique of the assumption that engaging with narratives enhances well-being. While the ‘limits of narrative’ have long been an object of critique by scholars in the medical humanities, the question of limits has been posed primarily in terms of whether narrativity can be considered an anthropological universal, and in terms of what (or whom) a privileging of narrativity might exclude. […]