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 (ETeC)

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”.

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 (NEPTurkey)

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.

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Blurred Boundaries of Assistive Reproduction Technologies (B.B.ART)

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Duration: Since 2016

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).

Continuation or New Beginning? Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Technology Assessment (TA)

Supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol

Duration: From fall 2018

As part of a DFG-network application with the working title “Continuation or New Beginning? Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and Technology Assessment (TA),” organized in collaboration with other young scholars, the research field will be given a broader basis. Today, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is regarded as an important approach to research, technology and innovation policy and has been tested internationally, particularly at the European level. RRI is to be a common goal for all projects to be funded by the EU through 2020 within the framework of the European Research and Innovation Framework Programme “Horizon 2020.” With the central involvement of the OII in the proposed network, diverse cultural and religious perspectives are incorporated into the concept of RRI, paving the way for future cooperation in EU projects with selected partners.

Şahinol, Melike / Kuhnt, Anne-Kristin (2017): “Quo Vadis Fetura? Reproduktionstechnologien als Teil des Human Enhancement: Ein Ländervergleich zwischen Deutschland und der Türkei”. In: Goecke, Benedikt Paul: Designobjekt Mensch? Transhumanismus in Theologie, Philosophie und Naturwissenschaften, Herder Verlag (forthcoming)

Şahinol, Melike (2017): “Reproductive Health in Turkey: From Enhancing Eggs to Intercultural Implications for RRI” In: Bowmann, Diana; Dijkstra, Anne; Fautz, Camilo; Guivant, Julia S.; Konrad, Kornelia; Shelley-Egan, Clare; Woll, Silvia (ed.): The Co-Production of Emerging Bodies, Politics and Technologies (forthcoming)

Şahinol, Melike (2017): “‘Help, the monster is eating me!’ – Loss of control of the technical vs. harmonically acting bio-technical figure of the cyborg in experimental neuroscientific therapy” In: Compagna, Diego & Steinhart, Stefanie (ed.): Anthology: Monsters and the Monstrous (forthcoming)

Şahinol, Melike (2016): Das techno-zerebrale Subjekt. Zur Symbiose von Mensch und Maschine in den Neurowissenschaften. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag

Şahinol, Melike (2014): “Sheila Jasanoff: Wissenschafts- und Technikpolitik in zeitgenössischen, demokratischen Gesellschaften”, in: Lengersdorf, Diana & Wieser, Matthias (ed.): Schlüsselwerke der Science & Technology Studies: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 293-303. URL:

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.