Careveillance of Aging Bodies As Proxemic Diffraction

Peter Lutz

    Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    New healthcare technologies are increasingly used for augmenting old age homecare. These are often designed to improve risk awareness and render healthcare data more visible and mobile. At the same time this situation raises questions about how human-technological relationalities effect old age homecare and its surveilled bodies. This article pursues such questions with converging ideas from anthropology, science and technology studies (STS) and surveillance studies. It selects three positional sites of old age home care surveillance – or simply ‘careveillance' – where human-technological relationalities are apparent. These are distinguished as 'watching over,' 'watching out for' and 'looking after' and explored in terms of their effects on aging bodies. Drawing on several ethnographic fieldwork encounters from the United States, the article proposes that careveillance effect embodied 'diffractions.' In other words careveillance is seen as breaking up and simultaneously projecting not one but many aging bodies. These diffractions are further characterized as 'proxemic' meaning that aging bodies are projected with different spatial-temporalities. The article concludes that careveillance effects are neither 'panoptic' (full view) nor solely 'oligoptic' (partial view). They also bear the paradoxical potentials for chimeric futures which screen aging bodies simultaneously visible and hidden. Such human-technological effects are significant, it is argued, because they directly impact how aging bodies are observed and treated as cared entities. On a final note the article also suggests that the concept ‘proxemic diffraction' provides polycentric vantage points for considering the relational effects of ethnographic inquiry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAmerican Anthropological Association 2011 Annual Meeting Abstracts
    Number of pages1
    Publication date2011
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Healthcare Technology
    • Old Age Homecare
    • Surveillance Studies
    • Human-Technological Relationalities
    • Proxemic Diffraction


    Dive into the research topics of 'Careveillance of Aging Bodies As Proxemic Diffraction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this