Michele Friedner (University of Chicago) and Mara Mills (New York University) have received funding from the US-based National Endowment for the Humanities for a conference, working group, and book project on “The Global Cochlear Implant” for the period Fall 2023-Fall 2025. We are seeking chapter contributors for our interdisciplinary edited volume that will focus on:


-Early histories of cochlear implant development and use (especially in France, Austria, and Russia)

-Historical and contemporary accounts of cochlear implant development and utilization in specific geographic contexts, including developing contexts

-Analysis of the ways that cochlear implantation is changing (or not) deaf and disability identities, socialities, solidarities, and life trajectories in specific geographic contexts

- Ethics of cochlear implantation development, dissemination, and use in diverse contexts; an exploration of ethics can also include discussions of brain implants and biotechnology more broadly

- Humanistic and aesthetic accounts and representations of cochlear implantation 

- Histories connecting cochlear implants to the broader category of brain implants


Doctoral students are welcome and encouraged to apply. Contributors can be at any academic or non-academic rank and will be offered a stipend for their chapters as well as travel and lodging funds to attend the October 2024 conference in Chicago. Participants will also be invited to attend monthly zoom group meetings where they will receive support for writing their chapters. 


The deadlines are as follows:

  1. Submit abstract and cv to michelefriedner@uchicago.edu and mmills@nyu.edu by December 1 2023; please email both with questions and/or concerns

  2. Decisions will be made by Jan 1, 2024

  3. Working group meetings in support of research and writing of papers will commence first week of February

  4. Conference will be held in October 2024 at the University of Chicago; Participants will present talks based on their chapters

  5. Versions of chapters will be sent to the selected press in April 2025


Project Abstract:

Perhaps no medical device has sparked more popular discussion of the “dangers and opportunities of technology” than the cochlear implant (CI). The first true bionic device, CIs (re)produce an absent ‘normal’ human function (Blume 2009). Despite ongoing polarizing debates about the ramifications of CI technology, only a few book-length studies of the technology exist, and these have overwhelmingly emphasized U.S. and European perspectives. This collaborative humanities project will document the impacts of the technology itself (e.g. algorithmic bias), the influence of the global corporations that market it, and the range of ways implants have been domesticated, maintained, and re-interpreted. At this pivotal moment for the development and global dissemination of neuroprosthetics, with brain implants widely featured in the popular press, this multi-disciplinary, international project will serve both a documentary and a comparative function, as well as provide a platform, through our conference and published work, for alternative narratives of CI use.

Published: 10/04/2023