Seminar Series – Face On or Off: Face Transplants and the Resistance to Categorization

Monday, Dec 9, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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Bloomberg School of Public Health Feinstone Hall
615 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD
Both like and not like cosmetic surgery and whole organ transplants, facial allografts have proven difficult to categorize. This talk will show how bioethicists, surgeons, and journalists have conceptualized face transplants as neither and both, and the resulting stakes for each. Paying particular attention to the media coverage of Isabelle Dinoire’s partial facial allograft in 2005, Pearl will discuss the implications of the cosmetic frame and the whole organ frame for the bioethical debates around FAT.
Sharrona Pearl is a historian and theorist of the body and face.  She has explored the face in a number of articles and two monographs: About Faces: Physiognomy in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Harvard University Press, 2010); and Face/On: Face Transplants and the Ethics of the Other (University of Chicago Press, 2017). Pearl is the editor of Images, Ethics, Technology (Routledge, 2016), the latest volume in the Shaping Inquiry in Culture, Communication and Media Studies series. Her current book project explores the face recognition spectrum from face blindness to super recognition, with a focus on the ethics of face recognition technology.  She is also working on a project on “racialized forgiveness” in cases of police shootings and institutional violence. Other areas of interest include plastic surgery in prisons; visual culture; self-fashioning and visual judgment; science and performance; freak shows through history; queer bioethics; and the ethics of images.