Fertility- and hormonal- biosensing are becoming increasingly widespread across the global North. Multiple devices and apps, and their associated platforms, are used to track menstruation and ovulation, to measure sperm count, and to monitor hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menopause and gender transition. The relevant platforms collect and collate data from millions of devices, producing, in some cases, very large, and valuable, data sets about particular bodily events. Self-tracking and biosensing practices are arguably changing the way users – and non-users – experience their bodies, their sexualities and their sex/gender. Whilst these practices may increase self-knowledge, do they typically challenge conventional biomedical scientific knowledge or practices? How are practices of self-tracking entangled with the politics of platformisation? And what might a feminist approach to self-tracking and biosensing look like?
About the presenter:
Celia Roberts is a new Professor in the School of Sociology, working in the area of Feminist Technoscience Studies. Her research focuses on biomedicine, sexuality, sexual development, reproduction and sex/gender, and often involves empirical studies of digital and other health and care-related technologies. She is author of Puberty in Crisis: The sociology of early sexual development (CUP, 2016) and Messengers of Sex: Hormones, biomedicine and feminism (CUP, 2007) and co-author of Born and Made: An ethnography of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (Princeton, 2006). This talk is based on a forthcoming co-authored book on health biosensing.