The ultrasound fetal image : the event of birth, female body and medical discourse
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The use of ultrasound fetal image has become common in medical practice. The ultrasound is a contemporary result of a long medical and technological history, in which the human body and its pathologies are known and controlled by medical apparatus. It is a specific form of image produced by what Michel Foucault called the medical gaze. The thesis offers a genealogy of the ultrasound image and then turns its attention to its contemporary use. By taking the obstetrical examination room as a social context, it shows that what is at stake is not merely technological but actually a social relationship, at the center of which visibility plays a fundamental role. This new power context controls and administers both women’s body and the emergent fetal body, which it perceives as an “originary human form.” In the culture at large, the fetus is even turned into a citizen with its rights, a metaphor which the anti-abortion movement used and abused extensively. Reading fetology as well as the fetal image in terms of a social relationship of power, it is demonstrated that the woman’s body is treated as mere environment. However, although technology is an important part of this biopolitics, it can also be read as an extension of human body through which the body knows and complicates itself.