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Breathing Like a Girl
Thu 16 January 2020 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm GMT
The conflict between objective and subject measurements of respiratory health has been a recurring theme of the Life of Breath project. The changing history of measuring breathlessness and the values we compare these measurements by can often indicate a disjunct between the experience of breathlessness and measurements of lung function. This can especially be seen in interactions between race, class, and gender in spirometry, as well as the blurriness between biological and environmental causation of disability.
But whose bodies mattered for these measurements? Who were the normal subjects? Join Life of Breath researcher Coreen McGuire as she explores these questions in the context of one significant category of the twentieth century: women. Coreen will discuss the consequences of gender in respiratory illness through the lens of local historical cases.
About Coreen McGuire
Coreen is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bristol. Her work for the Life of Breath project focuses on the historical use of the spirometer in measuring and assessing lung capacity, and its role in creating a definition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This works traces the epistemic authority of the spirometer and explores the problem of mechanical objectivity versus individual subjectivity in a historical context.