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BodyCapital


From testicular grafting (1920s) to step counting watches (2014), the perceptions and practices of health seeking individuals have been marked by continuities and profound changes during a twentieth century largely shaped by the advent of communication societies. In postulating the interactive, performative power of mass media in societies, visuals are an important but yet not well studied source for understanding such transformations. The research group will engage a visual perspective on a long twentieth century to answer questions about roles of audiovisuals in changes from public health and human capital collective understandings of the healthy self to new (sometimes debated) perceptions and practices of our bodies as forms of individual capital in an increasing market-economized world.

In pursuing these questions, the project focuses on four fields of investigation:

food/nutrition
movement/exercise/sports
sexuality/reproduction/infants
dependency/addiction/overconsumption

in Germany, France and Great Britain studied with an entangled history framework. Within this scope the project aims to understand (1) how visuals shape our health related self-understanding and practices in a continuity/discontinuity from the bio-political to the bio-economic logic. (2) The project will explore and explain how and why understandings of body capital differ or overlap in European countries. (3) The project will analyse if and how visual media serve as a promotion-communication hyphen for twentieth century preventive-self-understanding.


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The project seeks to better understand changes and continuities in the history of health intertwined with the history of media. This shall provide new insights into how the internalization of bodycapital has evolved throughout the past century, how transformations in the media world (from film to TV to internet) play out at the individual level and how health challenges and cultural differences in body perceptions and practices persist in producing social distinction in an age of global information and advanced health systems. The project aims at a European 20th century history of changing healthy-self perceptions and practices conceived as an economic history as cultural history including science and technology an entangled comparative European visual history a social history of media and health from a utility visual perspective an interdisciplinary approach to historicise how European individual human-body capital understandings and practices have changed during the twentieth century. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 694817).