Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Anatomical knowledge about human bodily structure has long been used to help theoretically inform individual- and population-scale health care praxis, hence is ‘biopowerfully’ useful to the societies in which it is developed. Anatomists have traditionally relied on dissection to generate prevalent conceptions of an unnaturally abridged, material body form. Anatomical knowledge about the morphology, topography, and architectural relationships between the body’s many supposed ‘parts’ valuably helps explain how these constructs might work, separately and together. And also, how they may contribute to, or are affected by, the body’s overall functioning in states of health and impairment. Fascia, the body’s pervasive soft fibrous connective tissue fabric, is typically destroyed and discarded during dissection; in order to enable scrutiny of other, more visibly obvious parts – such as muscles, bones, and visceral organs. Despite its ubiquitous organic existence, fascia is consequently omitted from most professional, academic, and lay understandings of bodily structure. Notwithstanding their obvious utility, anatomical knowledges that solely allude to hypothetically fascia-less body forms conceptually precludes recognition of fascia’s crucial contributions to the body’s integrated structural and functional performance. This is troubling as it inevitably limits what can be understood about the body’s morphology, functioning, remedial care, and population-scale health provision. Changing the ways we collectively think about what ‘the body is’ - by re-integrating some of its conventionally overlooked structural elements (such as fascia) - could play a role in constructively reimagining of what safe, effective, culturally appropriate, and socially equitable health care might look like.