Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Identity and Governance of Bodily Extensions: The Case of Prosthetics and Avatars

April 6th, 2016

Professor Sita Popat’s ground-breaking new project proposes that both digital avatars and medical prosthetics can be defined as forms of bodily extension – one mechanical, the other digital.

Both are both used widely in everyday life, yet research into their impact upon users’ lived experiences has been approached with very different emphases. Medical research into prosthetic limbs has tended to focus on functionality, while research into avatar usage has embraced embodiment,social identity and interaction, legal ownership and rights.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, this new project brings together specialists in digital performance, rehabilitation medicine, and law, to apply multiple perspectives to both avatars and prosthetics. How do different forms of bodily extension impact on experiences of embodiment and being in the world? How do body image and social identity relate to the design and function of bodily extensions? How far are bodily extensions defined and acknowledged in medical, information technology and human rights law? The team is working with avatar users and prosthetic users to ensure that the research has real-world relevance and applications.

Image © Philip Sheridan

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