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Paper 119: Personhood and Time: technologies of assessment, ambiguous identities and giving people a future

Latimer, Joanna

The paper discusses the relation between technology, time and identity. Drawing on ethnographies of older people in hospital the paper focuses on the making and unmaking of ageing identities in the context of new technologies of assessment. The paper examines how people's histories and futures are mobilised in the making and unmaking of them as persons in medical settings. But this is not to suggest that the relation between time and identity is ever settled: on the contrary the discursive constitution of personhood is deployed in the fabrication of people as medical objects (or not.) Nor are persons ever made present: through these discursive practices, including the effacement of people as living presences, the distinctive features of the medical domain are (re)-accomplished. The findings make evident what is true throughout our lives: the increasing difficulties each of us encounters in rendering self or other in the present as persons. The paper argues that these findings have important consequences for rethinking the social. An age interpellated with the effects of technologies of assessment transforms presence into a space of extraction for stockpiling the future.

Paper 119: Personhood and Time: technologies of assessment, ambiguous identities and giving people a future, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Numbers Paper 119, Series Working Paper Series, October(2008), ISBN 978-1-904815-82-2