Human, Medicine, and Society

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol and Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika

Main collaborator: Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Duration: Since 2015

New types of medical innovations enable previously unknown interventions into the “nature of human”. Culturally different interpretations and modes of behavior affect the handling of these fundamentally new challenges for society, culture, law, and politics. Genome editing, eugenics programs, modern reproductive technologies, and health apps that analyze our fitness and health data everyday are just some examples of medicine, science, and technology changing various dimensions of individual and social life. As a result of these dynamic changes, questions arise as to how these developments shape socio-technical, socio-cultural, and socio-political processes. For a young and dynamic society like Turkey, these questions are particularly explosive. Dealing with them is thus of particular importance. On 15 May 2015, Dr. Melike Şahinol launched the new research field “Human, Medicine, and Society.” It will focus mainly on the way society in Turkey deals with practices of Human Enhancement through medical innovations and thus understanding the developments in science, technology, and medicine in relation to their social contexts form an STS perspective. With this research field, the Orient-Institut Istanbul broke new ground in Turkey, treating for the first time the current challenges of biotechnology, neurosciences, nano- and information technologies in the medical field. Central to the development of this research field is the close cooperation with the leading German scientific institution in this field, the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). For this purpose, a cooperation agreement has been signed.

Additive Manufacturing: Enabling Technologies during Childhood

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Duration: Since 2017

The project “Additive Manufacturing: Enabling Technologies during Childhood” (ETeC) examines technological development processes of the 3D printed hand “Robotel” (turkish: robot hand) designed for children from a perspective at the intersection of the sociology of the body and sociology of technology (or Science and Technology Studies, STS). The focus of this research are questions of interdisciplinary coordination and organization of the design for a 3D Robotel taking into account children, parents, technicians, medical practitioners, etc. “Additive manufacturing” and cheap 3D printing processes that open up new possibilities of body modification play a major role in this investigation. Furthermore, this project seeks to understand the influence of children and their bodies towards the technological advancement process and how they manage the Human-Machine adaptation during adolescence. Positioned within the research cluster “Human, Medicine and Society” of the Orient Institute Istanbul, this methodologically qualitative research project will be realized in close partnership with “Robotel Türkiye”.

Cartography of Hair:y_less Masculinities. A comparison between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Research Assistant: Burak Taşdizen, MSc

Duration: 01/2020 – 01/2022

Project blog:

“Hair:y_less Masculinities” is part of Max Weber Foundation’s Knowledge Unbound, and is funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The growing cultural enthusiasm for cosmetic surgery and the techno-medical modification of the body have long since reached men’s world, and thus, medicalized masculinities. Among the top five cosmetic procedures most frequently chosen by men are laser hair removal in the category of cosmetic minimally invasive procedures and hair transplantations in the category of cosmetic surgical procedures. Turkey and Iran, the two countries emerging as world’s health tourism destinations around the globe, have not remained indifferent to the increasing interest in cosmetic surgery in particular for hair transplant procedures tailored towards men. Considering its location, Turkey’s health tourism appeals to men medical tourists from both the West and the Middle East. Iran, following Turkey, emerges to have the second largest market share in the Middle East.

With a special emphasis on the somatechnics of male hair removal and transplantation practices, this project analyses men’s hair care by drawing a cartography of male body hair removal and hair transplantation norms and practices in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey. The comparative perspective between these practices in Iran and Turkey is therefore important in order to work out country-specific socio-cultural differences and influences coming from different currents thus also empowerment strategies despite cultural proximity and habits in the field of beauty, body care and (medicalized) masculinities.

eHealth: digital self-tracking practices and socio-cultural dimensions in Turkey (VALID-TR)

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Research Associate: Dr. Gülşah Başkavak

Funded by: German Federal Ministry of Health
Project partner and principle (Germany): Prof. Dr. Stefan Selke, Furtwangen University

Duration: 11/2017 – 03/2020

The Orient-Institut Istanbul (in particular the research field “Human, Medicine and Society” led by Dr. Melike Şahinol) is collaborating as research partner on the research project “Digital Health Data between Social Inclusion and Social Robustness” (original title: “Digitale Vulnerabilität zwischen Inklusion und sozialer Robustheit. Diversitätssensitive und risikoethische Abschätzung digitaler Selbstvermessung”) submitted by Prof. Dr. Stefan Selke at the University of Applied Sciences Furtwangen and approved at the end of 2017 by the Federal Ministry of Health. The project investigates how technologies of digital self-measurement (pedometer, fitness tracker, smartwatches, health apps) are embedded in social processes. The current trend is characterized by the fact that these applications should motivate users to work independently, preventively and actively on the positive development of their own health. Another research question is related to possible new forms of discrimination against vulnerable groups, for example people with chronical deseases or children.
Based on it’s expertise in Turkey, the Orient-Institut Istanbul will focus in particular on  the different normative frameworks of digital self-measurement in Turkey and the ethical criteria derived from an intercultural perspective. The question of under which circumstances self and voluntarily collected digital data become a social stratifying good and which individual and societal effects are associated with it, is particularly relevant.

Neuroenhancement: Practices and Techniques

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Duration: Since 2016

The aim of the project “Neuroenhancement: Practices and Techniques” (NEPTurkey) is to analyse the handling of increased workload during exams or being under high workloads and deadline pressure in general, especially in Turkey. The study intents to make accessible the practices and techniques on the improvement of learning and working strategies. To unfold a differentiated and well elaborated perspective on a complex theme the project combines methodically theoretical insights with its own empirical fieldwork. The focus is a first approach to a theoretical concept of Neuroenhancement in sociology, but specifically in the Turkish context.

Contested socio-(bio-)technical imaginaries: Framing Milk Bank Governance in Iran, Turkey and Europe

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Research Associate: Dr. Burcu Mutlu

Duration: 04/2019 – 12/2019

“Contested socio-(bio-)technical imaginaries” was part of Max Weber Foundation’s Knowledge Unbound, and is funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

The project deals with historical trajectories, and current socio-technical and biopolitical transformations of breast milk from a sociological perspective by focusing on complex trajectories of breast milk donor banks in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and Europe. The aim is to critically examine biobanking practices in the age of “enhancement societies” not only on a societal level, but also as strategies of self-empowerment.

Blurred Boundaries of Assistive Reproduction Technologies

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Duration: 2015-2018

The aim of this research project is to analyze several aspects of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Turkey, e.g. their regulatory and intercultural consequences and their international range of influence (concerning e.g. an internationally adapted Technology Assessment or global TA, or Responsible Research and Innovation in a global context).

Şahinol, M., Coenen, C., & Motika, R. (2020). Upgrades der Natur, künftige Körper: Interdisziplinäre und internationale Perspektiven. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien (forthcoming).

Şahinol, M. (2020). My Cyborg Performance as a Techno-Cerebral Subject. In  Chris Hables Gray, Steven Mentor and Heidi Figueroa Sarriera (Eds.) Modified: Living as a Cyborg (forthcoming). Routledge.

Şahinol, M. (2020). eHealth applications in Knowledge Landscapes. In A. L. Svalastog, S. Gajovic & A. Webste (Eds.), Navigating Knowledge Landscapes: Digital Systems and Health Agency. Book series Health, Technology & Society. Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming).

Şahinol, M. (2019). Collecting Data and the Status of the Research Subject in Brain-Machine Interface Research in Chronic Stroke Rehabilitation. In: Somatechnics 9.2-3 (2019): 244–263, Edinburgh University Press.

Şahinol, M., Aydınoğlu, A., & Kaygan, H. (2018). STS (in) Turkey as Extitution. EASST Review, 37(1).

Şahinol, M. (2018). Die Überwindung der ‘Natur des Menschen’ durch Technik. Körper-Technik-Verhältnisse am Beispiel der Cyborgkonstitution in den Neurowissenschaften. In B. P. Goecke & F. Meier-Hamidi (Eds.), Designobjekt Mensch? Transhumanismus in Theologie, Philosophie und Naturwissenschaften (pp. 461-489). Freiburg / Basel / Vienna: Herder Verlag.

Şahinol, M., & Kuhnt, A.-K. (2018). Quo Vadis Fetura? Reproduktionstechnologien als Teil des Human Enhancement: Ein Ländervergleich zwischen Deutschland und der Türkei. In B. P. Goecke & F. Meier-Hamidi (Eds.), Designobjekt Mensch? Transhumanismus in Theologie, Philosophie und Naturwissenschaften (pp. 429-459). Freiburg / Basel / Vienna: Herder Verlag.

Şahinol, M. (2017). Reproductive Health in Turkey: From Enhancing Eggs to Intercultural Implications for Responsible Research and Innovation. In D. M. Bowman, A. Dijkstra, C. Fautz, J. Guivant, K. Konrad, C. Shelley-Egan, & S. Woll (Eds.), The Politics and Situatedness of Emerging Technologies (Vol. 8, pp. 111-127). Berlin: IOS Press.

Organization of conferences & workshops (selected)

Workshop: „Technology and the Body: Care, Empowerment and the Fluidity of Bodies

Academic Coordinator: Dr. Melike Şahinol (OII)

Event date: 01/21/2020

Sponsored by: Orient-Institut Istanbul

As part of the “Knowledge Unbound” TM 2c IRSSC project, an internal workshop titled “Technology and the Body: Care, Empowerment and the Fluidity of Bodies” was held at the Orient-Institut Istanbul on 21 January 2020. The workshop brought together two research areas of the institute, namely, “Human, Medicine and Society” and “Study of Religions”, each with a distinctive approach to the study of body.

The workshop involved 13 participants including researchers, artists and locals (from Turkey and Iran) of diverse backgrounds for a fruitful exchange of knowledge and expertise on the IRSSC project. The research areas of the participants span from sociology of medicine to study of religions, from sociology of Middle East to masculinity studies and disability studies in feminist technoscience.

STS TURKEY Science, Technology and Society Winter School 2020

Co-organized by: Dr. Melike Şahinol (OII)

Event date: 01/14-16/2020

Co-organizers: Arsev Umur Aydinoglu, Ph.D. (Middle East Technical University), Emine Öncüler Yayalar (Bilkent University) and Şafak Kılıçtepe

Sponsored by: Bilkent Üniversitesi, ODTÜ Tasarım Fabrikası

The second STS TURKEY Science, Technology and Society Winter School will be held on 14-16 January 2020 at METU Design Factory, Ankara. The Winter School supported by Bilkent University and METU Design Factory will provide 10 lectures by senior researchers and professors from different disciplines within three days, and will be completed with a half-day discussion, where the participants come up their current research subjects.

Lecture Series: „Human, Medicine and Society: Past, Present and Future Encounters“ program / „İnsan, Tıp ve Toplum: Geçmiş, Bugün ve Gelecek Buluşmaları”

Academic Coordinator: Dr. Melike Şahinol (OII)

Event date: 12/04/2019-03/04/2020

The issue of Human, Medicine and Society encompasses a broad and interdisciplinary spectrum of topics. Ongoing innovations in medicine, science and technology have led to various possibilities and restructuring orders. These innovations are concerned with social and cultural aspects of illness and health, medicine, health care organizations and health policies. Hence, new practices of self-care combined with prevention and health promotion are becoming increasingly relevant. The historical constitution and effectiveness of the interrelation of medicine, science and technology is also important in this context as its transformation processes affect our present and future on various levels.

On the individual level, new forms of human-machine constellations have emerged as a result of the evolvement of bionic body parts for instance. On a social level, these changes cause modifications such as doctor-patient relationships, for example, and create new occupations or socio-technical environments influenced by the intertwining of society with technology. Along these lines, new forms of institutionalization, discrimination and also legal matters with regard to health and society occur. As medical drugs, devices and technologies are applied for non-therapeutic purposes, ‘human enhancement’ is a highly controversial discussion topic fostering new understandings of a ‘healthy society’. Likewise, medical innovations raise questions about the impact of these developments in shaping socio-technical, cultural, ethical, legal and political aspects of living in an ‘enhancement society’.

These issues and questions are further discussed and elaborated on in a series of interdisciplinary lectures.

STS TURKEY “Science, Technology and Society” Winter School 2019

Co-organizer: Dr. Melike Şahinol (OII)

Event date: 01/24-26/2019

Sponsored by: Orient-Institut Istanbul

As the Turkish Scholarly Network for Science and Technology Studies, one of the objectives of STS TURKEY is to increase the visibility of STS in Turkey by promoting STS research and STS training activities in Turkey and – since our foundation, we have been continuously and intensively working on the development and dissemination of STS in Turkey.

The aim of STS TURKEY’s first Winter School was to convey the basic STS theoretical frameworks, important concepts and will introduce participants to related discussions in the STS field, as requested from students and researchers from different fields.

Exhibition Cyborg Encounters

Advisor: Dr. Melike Şahinol (OII)

Contributors: Ayşe Melis Okay, Beyza Dilem Toptal, Burak Kaynar, Burak Taşdizen, Umut Özöver, Öykü Sorgun, Pelin Günay

Event: STS TURKEY 2019 conference, Istanbul Technical University

Event date: 09/10-12/2019

‘Cyborg Encounters’ offers an experience of a universe; in between past, present and future constituted of hybrids born from the coupling of humans and nonhumans, beyond species and genders. It lives in the duality of integrated circuits and feelings of monachopsis, defying the order of things.

As a placeless local, you will encounter sections from the cyborg universe. In this creation; cyborg is a political, poetic, living or inanimate, digital or mechanical intervention; with or without a body and flesh. In this exhibition, a narrative in which fiction and reality intertwine, cultivates the theories of the cyborg, feminist technoscience, human enhancements, laboratory studies and politics of disability/ability and artifacts.

STS TURKEY 2019 conference

Istanbul Technical University (ITU), hosted by ITU Master Program and the Department of Science, Technology and Society and the Department of Human and Society Sciences (ITU).

Organizing Commitee:
Prof. Dr. Aydan Turanlı, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi (Düzenleme Kurulu Başkanı)
Dr. Asli Çalkıvik, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi (Düzenleme Kurulu)
Dr. Özlem Yılmaz, İstanbul Teknik Üniversitesi (Düzenleme Kurulu)
Dr. Melike Şahinol, Orient-Institut İstanbul (STS TURKEY coordinator)
Dr. Arsev Umur Aydınoğlu, Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (STS TURKEY coordinator)
Dr. Harun Kaygan, Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (STS TURKEY coordinator)

Supported by: STS TURKEY, Inventram

Founding Meeting of STS TURKEY

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol (OII)

Event date: 03–04 October 2017

Main collaborator: Arsev Umur Aydinoglu, Ph.D. (Coordinator, Design Factory, Middle East Technical University) and Asst. Prof. Dr. Harun Kaygan (Department of Industrial Design Middle East Technical University)

Sponsored by: Orient-Institut Istanbul, European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)

STS TURKEY is the Turkish Scholarly Network for Science and Technology Studies. The network is founded in 2017 as a platform to build up a Turkish network among researchers with interests in the study of science, technology and medicine in Turkish society.

Conference: Upgrades of Nature, Future Bodies: Interdisciplinary and International Perspectives

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Event date: 17–18 June 2016

Main collaborator: Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie; Synenergene; Bio-Faction

Sponsored by: Fritz Thyssen Foundation

The possibilities for the manipulation of the human genome and body, for “optimizing” nature, and for the (re)designing of human beings by themselves or third parties, are developing rapidly. Using new methods, for example, embryos are genetically modified and depression is suppressed via brain implants. The biological body, perceived as deficient or flawed, initially appears in visions of the future, but increasingly also in practice as a cyborg, a repository of spare parts, or as an object of technical upgrade. “Human nature” is increasingly being questioned by genetic interventions, neuro-prostheses, chimeras, and other technological and medical developments. Are new ideas emerging about the human condition? What will this “brave new world” of seemingly arbitrarily manipulatable human beings look like from an intercultural perspective? How does a majority Muslim society respond to these techniques of body modification and other, sometimes even highly futuristic modification options and technologies? The aim of the conference is to bring together international, and especially German-Turkish perspectives, on upgrades of nature and the future body in an interdisciplinary exchange. The cultural, economic and health policy differences between Germany and Turkey—countries that are closely linked in a number of fields—also make it possible to critically question the “Western” dominated view of the previous discourse on human enhancement and to address the subject of German-Turkish scientific exchange.

Lecture Series: Designing Nature, Upgrading Human Life? Reflections on how Medicine, Science and Technology Transform our Lives

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Event date: Fall 2016 / Spring 2017

Recent developments in medicine, science, and technology have enabled an unprecedented “optimization” of human beings. The lecture series is dedicated to the interdisciplinary and intercultural discussion of the consequences of these developments. The focus is on the changing relationship between the alteration of human beings resulting from the practice of life sciences as well as social conceptions of humanity and the nature of existence. What are the cultural and social consequences of these scientific and technical interventions into human biology? What might the ramifications be for our societies? Another central concern is the question of whether these interventions in the biological nature of human beings and the resulting changes actually lead to an improvement of life.

With this lecture series, the Orient-Institut Istanbul presents to the public its new research field “Human, Medicine, and Society” and begins a scholarly dialogue on these issues between German and Turkish academics.

Shahrzad Irannejad (RTG 1876 “Early Concepts of Humans and Nature”, JGU Mainz), dissertation title: Localization of the Avicennean Inner Senses in a Hippocratic Body (1.9.2019–29.2.2020)

Benan Grams (Georgetown University), dissertation title: The History of Ottoman Medicine in Syria 1832-1919 (1.7.2019–31.12.2019)

Şafak Kılıçtepe (Indiana University Bloomington), dissertation title: Reproductive Technologies, Pronatalism and Ethnicity: An Ethnography of Situated Reproduction in Turkey (28.11.2018–10.5.2019)

Maria Kramer (London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE), dissertation title: The Inherited Risk”. The Medicalisation of Consanguineous Marriage in Contemporary Turkey (19.10.2016–18.3.2017)

Hande Güzel (University of Cambridge), dissertation title: Becoming of the Body through Re-Virginization Practices in Turkey (1.10.2016–28.2.2017)