Histories of self-tracking and self-experimentation

21 juli 2019

Call for papers

Today’s wearable sensors and smartphone apps make it increasingly easy to monitor personal health and habits, and many users of these digital technologies now track their sleep, blood sugar, heart rate or exercise. This means that there is a proliferation of n=1 experiments, done by individuals who want to understand their bodies and who use personal data to improve their health and wellbeing.

This one-day workshop explores the histories of these practices, looking at different forms of self-tracking and self-experimentation in the 19th and 20th century. Individuals in this period studied their bodies and habits through the use of various techniques: they tracked their body weight with bathroom scales, their fertility with thermometers, they counted calories or tracked their blood sugar. By doing these short-term or long-term experiments, individuals could become self-experts.

The aim of the workshop is to analyse the ways in which these self-experimenters have used scientific or science-inspired tools and methods to produce knowledge about themselves, and to discuss how ‘scientific’, personally insightful or transformative this knowledge was.

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Utrecht University, 25 October 2019; Deadline: 21 July 2019

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