Christian Pasiak is a doctoral candidate in Sociology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. His research follows controversies surrounding emerging sociotechnical practices and the ways new technologies intervene in marginalized groups, particularly in cases where technologies are unevenly distributed in heterogeneous networks leading to emerging inequalities. His engagement with mobilities studies includes a presentation with Nick Scott to the European Cosmobilities Network in Aalborg, Denmark in 2010.
Mapping Eyes, Charting Patients: Navigating Sociotechnical Spaces with Low Vision
This paper looks at arrangements of techniques and practices in a complex circulation network to untangle relationships between mediators of access to emergent medical interventions for persons with low vision in Canada. This case study from my doctoral research includes interviews with eye doctors, people with keratoconus (a progressive corneal-thinning condition and form of macular degeneration not widely known to a Canadian public), and people who have been advocates for keratoconus awareness through Facebook groups and participation in local news campaigns. It explores relationships with the different ways participants visualize keratoconus – enacting it through different practices, techniques, and technologies – and how they described it in interviews, where keratoconus’ very status as a thing changed with proximity to different techniques and ways of knowing. Organized around diverse public interests, multiple sociotechnical arrangements of bodies and disorders intervened in patient trajectories as they move through medical networks, including obligatory passage points to initial diagnoses. An example demonstrates ways that bodily mapping technologies (such as corneal topographers) act as mediators for patient access to medical interventions yet are unevenly distributed across a heterogeneous space/time topology. I explore questions about knowing bodies, justifying interventions, how disorder is practiced, how medical identities are multiple and mobile, and how inequalities subsist in networks with uneven distributions of sociotechnical mediators across dynamic, heterogeneous spaces of decision-making.