Molecular imaginaries of aging and age intervention: A discursive analysis of popular science and technology coverage of developments in the field of anti-aging science, medicine, and technology
As technologies of visualization and intervention advance in the fields of science and medicine, aging has become increasingly visible in popular coverage of anti-aging research as a site of molecular intervention. Focusing on coverage of developments in the field of anti-aging science and technology in a selection of popular science and technology magazines published between 2010 and 2015, this study addresses how a “molecular vision of life” (Rose, 2007) is popularized for mass consumption, looking specifically at the use of image and metaphor. Both, I argue, are significant in how we relate to our own bodies and the changes that come with living in a body over time. Through image, the aging bodies of molecular intervention are visualized along a continuum of openness, ranging from transparency to complete absence, as sites of action, evidentiary displays, and spatialized narratives of metamorphosis. Many of these images are furthermore visualized through a collapse of scale, enacting a corporeal sensibility that moves between scales of vision. Through metaphor, bodies are taken up as either serviceable mechanical casings or sites of inner turmoil. In these metaphorical mappings, the abstract world of molecules is rendered sensible through familiar narratives of intervention: cars that need servicing, clocks that need rewinding, computers that need upgrading, systems that need (re-)organizing, walls that need fixing, houses that need cleaning, and enemies that need neutralizing. By highlighting the multidimensional and multimodal means through which aging and age intervention are rendered visible and sensible at the molecular scale, this study contributes to scholarship concerning molecularization, representations of aging, and the popularization of science and aims to carve out a critical space from which we can create, resist, incorporate, or redefine the kinds of futures, bodies and selves that enliven our imaginations.
anti-aging, molecularization, discourse analysis, visual analysis, metaphor, popularization of science, biopolitics, critical gerontology
Ellison, K. L. (2019). Molecular imaginaries of aging and age intervention: A discursive analysis of popular science and technology coverage of developments in the field of anti-aging science, medicine, and technology (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.