Objective Brains, Prejudicial Images

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Science in Context 12, 1 (1999), pp.173-201

In this article I argue that brain images constructed with computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) are part of a category of “expert images” and are both visually persuasive and also particularly difficult to interpret and understand by non-experts. Following the innovative judicial analogy of “demonstrative evidence” traced by Jennifer Mnookin (1998), I show how brain images are more than mere illustrations when they enter popular culture and courtrooms. Attending to the role of experts in producing data in the form of images, in selecting extreme images for publication, and in testifying as to their relevance, I argue that there is an undue risk in courtrooms that brain images will not be seen as prejudiced, stylized representations of correlation, but rather as straightforward, objective photographs of, for example, madness.

 

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1999

Dumit 1999 Objective Brains Prejudicial Images – Science in Context

“Objective Brains, Prejudicial Images,” Science in Context, v. 12, n. 1, pp. 173-201.

Chosen for inclusion in the International Library of Essays in Law and Society, Law and Science Volume I: Epistemological, Evidentiary, and Relational Engagements, edited by Susan Silbey, forthcoming, July 2008.

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»How I Read

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Notes on reading modes sent to a grad class: I wanted to respond to the questions raised during our class regarding what kind of a reading I have been doing over these weeks.  I see it as close (as opposed to general), constructive (as opposed to deconstructive), positive (as opposed to negative), generous (as opposed Continue reading…

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»Cyborg Anthropology

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The text of a paper we presented at the 1992 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco. It represents a first attempt at positioning cyborg anthropology in a late capitalist world that situates academic theorizing alongside popular theorizing. We view cyborg anthropology as a descriptive label that marks a cultural project rather Continue reading…

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