Upgrades of Nature, Future Bodies: Interdisciplinary and International Perspectives

Conference: Upgrades of Nature, Future Bodies: Interdisciplinary and International Perspectives (event date: 17–18 June 2016 at the Orient-Institut Istanbul)

The possibilities for the manipulation of the human genome and body, for “optimizing” nature, and for the (re)designing of human beings by themselves or third parties, are developing rapidly. Using new methods, for example, embryos are genetically modified and depression is suppressed via brain implants. The biological body, perceived as deficient or flawed, initially appears in visions of the future, but increasingly also in practice as a cyborg, a repository of spare parts, or as an object of technical upgrade. “Human nature” is increasingly being questioned by genetic interventions, neuro-prostheses, chimeras, and other technological and medical developments. Are new ideas emerging about the human condition? What will this “brave new world” of seemingly arbitrarily manipulable human beings look like from an intercultural perspective? How does a majority Muslim society respond to these techniques of body modification and other, sometimes even highly futuristic modification options and technologies? The aim of the conference is to bring together international, and especially German-Turkish perspectives, on upgrades of nature and the future body in an interdisciplinary exchange. The cultural, economic and health policy differences between Germany and Turkey—countries that are closely linked in a number of fields—also make it possible to critically question the “Western” dominated view of the previous discourse on human enhancement and to address the subject of German-Turkish scientific exchange.


(supervised by: Dr. Melike Şahinol, main collaborator: Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie; Synenergene; Bio-Faction, sponsored by: Fritz Thyssen Foundation)