The technological ability to alter biology, along with the social conditions and cultural expectations that enable such transformations, is spawning a variety of techniques that augment bodily forms and functions. These techniques, collectively known as enhancement technologies, aim to improve human characteristics, including appearance and mental or physical functioning, often beyond what is ‘normal’ or necessary for life and well-being. Humans have always modified their bodies. What distinguishes these techniques is that bodies and selves become the objects of improvement work, unlike previous efforts in modernity to achieve progress through social and political institutions. There are profound effects on sociality and subjectivity. This chapter reviews analytical approaches through which researchers have attempted to illuminate the practices, moral and economic reasoning, cultural assumptions and institutional contexts constituting enhancements, framing the discussion by examining the concept of the normal body. Examples from cosmetic, neurological and genetic enhancements will illustrate.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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