Theses defended

Objects made of cancer: material culture as a portion of disease on women's art stories

Susana de Noronha

Public Defence date
December 19, 2012
Doctoral Programme
Governance, Knowledge and Innovation
João Arriscado Nunes e Boaventura de Sousa Santos
Bringing together objects and materialities that take form and gain relevance in artistic projects regarding the feminine experience of cancer, this book proposes alternative concepts of material culture and oncological disease. It rejects a separation or differentiation between material and intangible dimensions in disease, understanding objects of material culture as portions of cancer, that is, as constitutive parts of the ideas, sensations, emotions and gestures that make the experience of the diseased body. Medical, domestic and personal objects, of collective or individual use, that include disposable materialities, clothing, furniture, equipment and machines, compose a list of realities that are embedded in the experience of the body during diagnosis, treatment, reconstruction, remission, recurrence, metastization and death. As a container of the materialities that fill and complete it, I also seek to understand how oncological disease (re)makes the experiences and meanings of objects. Giving name to this continuity, this book proposes the concepts of "modular-disease" and "nosobuilt-in objects", intending, in the way it defines things, the same connections that exist in lived reality.
To understand the actions, uses and meanings given to the objects that are and make portions of cancer(s), the working field of this investigation assembles the images and written explanations of one hundred and fifty artistic projects made by or with women that lived the experience of this disease. Displayed on the Internet, professional or amateur, creative exercises of commercial and artistic photography, painting, drawing, collage, casting, sculpture, embroidery and knitting make the visual and narrative ground that allows us to find the emic version of the mixture between material culture and disease. Perceiving the continuity that exists between objects and cancer, gathering knowledge given by the body, by art and social science, rests on a theoretic and methodological approach with which I test the heuristic potential of what I call the "third half of things and of knowledge".
Keywords: objects; cancer(s); women; modular-disease; nosobuilt-in objects; the third half of things and of knowledge.