Crippling the Transition to the Extraordinary? Enabling Technologies and Extra_Ordinarity #4S2019 #STS #DisAbility #CripTechnoscience

I am speaking on the panel Beyond the Prosthetic Imaginary: New Intersections between STS and Disability Studies II at 4S Conference in New Orleans

Thu, September 5, 4:30 to 6:00pm, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Floor: Eight, Bacchus

Crippling the Transition to the Extraordinary? Enabling Technologies and Extra_Ordinarity
Enabling technologies should, as the name implies, make something possible. However, what they should enable is perceived differently. This is also the case for 3D-printed prostheses for children, provided by the e-NABLE Community, who „create free 3D-printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device“ (
Based on an ethnographical study in the makerlab “Robotel” (an e-NABLE chapter in Turkey) and interviews with volunteers, parents and children, I argue, that the 3D-printed prosthesis becomes a contested socio-technical intermediary. Although, the volunteers would like to provide a “superhero hand” with a personalized colorful design to make those children feel special through their identification with the superstar. Here, “normality” is not intended for a variety of reasons. However, many families refuse this opportunity and wish a skin colored 3D-printed prosthesis, appearing like a “normal hand”. Children in the age of puberty share this view and want to look “ordinary”, but younger children prefer to attract their classmates or even strangers’ attention with a colorful superhero hand. At one end, the “biostatistical normality” (Boorse 1977) is not reached as long as physical deformity is not considered as “ordinary”. At the other end, the technical development towards bionic prostheses – with additional possibilities – leads to a form of an “extraordinary” cyborg. The attribution of meaning is embodied in the making and doing of 3D-printed prosthesis. This study traces the transition to the extraordinary as a chance to contribute to disability studies and crip theory (McRuer 2018, Kastl 2010).

Related project: Additive Manufacturing: Enabling Technologies in the Childhood