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Black Knowledges/Black StrugglesEssays in Critical Epistemology$
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Jason R. Ambroise and Sabine Broeck

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381724

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381724.001.0001

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Dehumanization, the Symbolic Gaze, and the Production of Biomedical Knowledge

Dehumanization, the Symbolic Gaze, and the Production of Biomedical Knowledge

(p.112) 5 Dehumanization, the Symbolic Gaze, and the Production of Biomedical Knowledge
Black Knowledges/Black Struggles

Jason E. Glenn

Liverpool University Press

This chapter traces and analyzes the history of human subject research and its role in the production of knowledge for biomedical use. It argues that the historic use of subjugated/condemned and dehumanized populations by clinicians for biomedical research helped produce a dehumanized field of knowledge. It offers a new and far-reaching interpretive framework that replaces Michel Foucault's thesis that the detachment of biomedical practitioners from their human research subjects resulted purely from a natural-scientific ‘clinical gaze’. This ‘gaze’ can be understood in more comprehensive terms as also the ‘symbolic gaze’ derived from the sociogenic code of a specific genre of ‘being’ human, including that of the late modern, purely biocentric variant of secular Western Man. And it is within the terms of this dual-perspectived ‘gaze’ that the biological bodies of dehumanized/subjugated populations were perceived first and foremost as the embodiment of symbolic death — as lives having no human value — in opposition to that of the clinician/practitioner as the self- and societally-represented embodiment of symbolic life.

Keywords:   human biomedical research, medical experiments, subjugated populations, symbolic gaze, Western Man

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