This chapter argues that the care of objects could form an important part of care ethics because the performance of the processes involved in their maintenance and repair can be an important vehicle for caring for the self and other people. Applying Fisher and Tronto’s (1990) definition of ‘caring about’ and ‘caregiving’ to processes of caring for objects, it considers how relationships with everyday objects and certain acts of domestic labour become meaningful acts of self-care. The author reflects on her arts practice with care home residents living with dementia, to explore how the everyday act of doing the laundry can be reimagined in arts sessions. She proposes that artists’ performative engagements with processes of caring for objects can have an important role to play in reimagining everyday acts and establishing new models of relational care with and for older people in institutionalised care.
This chapter is an enquiry into the possible shape of an aesthetics of care drawn from the experience of looking after a Congolese colleague after he was injured in a massacre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mix of different professional and personal circumstances directs the writing towards concerns with the ethics and aesthetics of caring for others and how these relationships might provide a productive orientation for work in the field of community-based performance or applied theatre. The chapter explores debates within feminist care ethics to argue that the relations that emerge in many arts projects can be understood as forms of affective solidarity and mutual regard that, in turn, could be powerful counterweights to the exclusions and disregard in a careless society.
This chapter reflects on an interdisciplinary practice research project, The Verbatim Formula (TVF), based at Queen Mary University of London, consisting of a series of residential workshops with care-experienced young people using verbatim theatre practices. Drawing on feminist care ethicist Nel Noddings’ analogy between aesthetic engagement and the art of caring, the authors reflect on the shared values and aesthetics of acts of care and participatory practices, and how these inhere in the attentiveneness, attunement and receptivity involved in performing and receiving verbatim material using headphone theatre technique. The chapter incorporates testimonies from its care-experienced co-researchers and draws on Joan Tronto’s argument that there is a radical need for an intervention into the dynamics of power in society that ensure that those for whom the structures of care are least effective are heard and attended to. In acknowledging the ‘ugliness’ of caring and the ongoing labour of attunement, listening emerges in TVF both as an aesthetic but also as a care-based participatory and political practice, that aims to empower care-experienced young people to intervene in the structures that represent them and to support adults to honour their experiences and needs.
This chapter explores the ways in which balance was configured in diabetes
care between the 1900s and 1960s. The balance of diet and insulin sat at the
heart of self-care programmes during this period. However, amid growing
political and popular interest in affective life, clinicians and a novel
patient organisation quickly connected bodily balance with psychological and
emotional stability in new ways. Depression, complacency, denial, fear and
optimism soon became subject to management in clinical spaces, mutual aid
publications and long-term professional–patient interactions, in response to
changing notions of health citizenship and self-discipline, and as certain
states came to be considered dangerous or beneficial to physiological and
political balance. The chapter begins to map out the extensive array of
tools and agencies involved in constructing selves oriented towards
This chapter investigates questions about balance in Parkinson’s Disease by
analysing historical shifts in debates about a predetermined behavioural
model of a Parkinson’s Disease personality, its relationship to artistic
creativity and implications for therapeutic equilibrium in clinical
management. The aim of the chapter is to demonstrate that focusing on
balance merely in terms of therapeutic dosage plans ignores broader
dimensions of balancing cultural conflict surrounding ontological and
emergent meanings of the disease and the transcendent metaphysics of
creativity. In this way it addresses the contingent scientific and clinical
normativities of physiological and psychological balance and their
relationship to models of the self. Drawing out the historical determinants
of contingently normative neo-humoralism threaded through the story of
Parkinson’s Disease, this chapter also explores an alternative, and equally
ancient, narrative of balance about the dualism of creative genius. Efforts
to balance drug reception in the brain, it argues, are bound to the legacy
of Enlightenment normative contingencies concerning madness and reason,
genius and lunacy, creativity and manic compulsion.
Concepts of ‘balance’ have been central to modern politics, medicine and society.
Yet, while many health, environmental and social challenges are discussed
globally in terms of imbalances in biological, social and ecological systems,
strategies for addressing modern excesses and deficiencies have focused almost
exclusively on the agency of the individual. Balancing the Self explores the
diverse ways in which balanced and unbalanced selfhoods have been subject to
construction, intervention and challenge across the long twentieth century.
Through original chapters on subjects as varied as obesity control, fatigue and
the regulation of work, and the physiology of exploration in extreme conditions,
the volume analyses how concepts of balance and rhetorics of empowerment and
responsibility have historically been used for a variety of purposes, by a
diversity of political and social agencies. Historicising present-day concerns,
as well as uncovering the previously hidden interests of the past, this volume’s
wide-ranging discussions of health governance, subjectivity and balance will be
of interest to historians of medicine, sociologists, social policy analysts, and
social and political historians alike.
Balance, malleability and anthropology: historical contexts
As the various contributions to this volume make clear, histories of notions
of ‘balanced selves’ are diverse. Ideas of balance differ across time and
cultural space, as do the ways in which balance might be regulated,
controlled and incentivised. Among all this variety, this chapter asks: How
is it possible to historicise balanced selfhood at all? What is the basis
for the assumption that human selves might be differently realised according
to the norms of different times and places? The chapter makes two arguments.
First, that a significant part of this notion of ‘malleable humanity’ comes
from early twentieth-century anthropology, especially from work in the
tradition of Franz Boas and Margaret Mead. Second, that the context for
these assumptions becoming visible is a resurgence of neurological,
neurochemical and genomic visions of humanity from the late 1990s onwards.
If the malleable selves that populate our histories of balance are
significantly anthropological, then their relationship with imperialism must
be clarified. In addition, as the visibility of malleable selves is related
to the resurgence of a new biological vision of humanity, the place of
historians in this contested terrain must also be clarified.
Narratives of balance and moderation at the limits of human
This chapter investigates notions of balance in the ‘natural laboratories’ of
extreme physiology – specifically the high Arctic, Antarctica and high
altitude in South America and the Himalaya. Physiologists and other
biomedical scientists celebrated these sites as spaces in which many
varieties of imbalance could be studied. The chapter concentrates on three
different kinds of balance: moderation, physiological homeostasis and
psychological stress responses. Through these case studies extreme
environments emerge as sites where, firstly, notions of balance could be
debated and reconstituted, and secondly where the white adult male’s body
became established as the norm for such research. This unquestioned
centralisation of a very specific kind of body as a standard measure in
balance research – particularly as it was a body not indigenous to extreme
environments – had consequences for the practices of both science and
Intermediating the French subsidies to Sweden during the Thirty Years’
This chapter offers a different perspective on the study of subsidies by
looking beyond the interstate level, adding a new dimension to our
understanding of the development of the state system. Not only were
subsidies arranged by state and non-state agents; this contribution argues
that subsidies along with other war-making resources were organized in
specific urban European centres, here referred to as ‘fiscal-military hubs’.
By shifting focus from entrepreneurs to fiscal-military hubs we may obtain
further insights into resource mobilization, in particular the relationship
between the business of war and European state formation.
This chapter explores the complex relationship between ‘the public’ and the
‘self’ in post-war British public health by tracing the development of
alcohol health education during the 1970s and 1980s. Health education was
put forward during these decades as a way to encourage individuals to
moderate their alcohol consumption – to behave responsibly by becoming
‘sensible drinkers’. Yet, at the same time, considerable scepticism was
expressed (even by those involved in the campaigns) about the ability of
health education to change behaviour. Other approaches, such as increasing
the price of alcohol, were suggested as ways of reducing alcohol consumption
at the population level. At issue, however, was not simply the capacity for
individuals to achieve healthy balance. Policy-makers weighed numerous
social, economic and political concerns alongside health outcomes. A growing
focus on moderation may have expanded public health’s target population, but
a reliance on health education and nebulous concepts like the ‘sensible
drinker’ also reflected the ways that disciplinary power could be
counterbalanced by broader policy concerns.