18.-20.10.2022 (Delmenhorst / Online)

Konferenz: Preventia - Optimizing Bios through Technologies

HWK International Symposium

Org. Annette Leibing, Silke Schicktanz, and Alessandro Blasimme, in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Study – Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg (IAS/HWK)

Keynote speakers: Deborah Lupton (UNSW Sydney), Stephen Katz (Trent U), and Klaus Høyer (U Copenhagen)

Date: 18 – 20 October 2022

Venue: Institute for Advanced Study in Delmenhorst, Germany and online (zoom)




Political scientist Richard Freeman, in 1992, wrote about the paradox that “nowhere is there agreement about quite what prevention is, while everywhere there is agreement that it is a good thing”. Also, philosopher Peter Sloterdijk (2018) questions the centrality of prevention in many societies as a (Christian) illusion – as if “self-defense could be projected into the future”. The politics of defense that predominate discussions in the health and life sciences, often merge the future with the present (with a wink to relevant bios-related events in the past), and ground ‘illusions’ in probabilities and certitudes embedded in logics displayed in, for instance, statistics, models, and certain biomarkers.


This symposium is about interrogating the concept of prevention and its elusive nature vis-à-vis the proliferation on prevention-related technologies. Which roles do technologies play within the idea of optimization and prevention? We want to debate this question by looking at ideally historically embedded, future-oriented policies, artifacts, and practices of optimizing lives through technologies.


Most preventive technologies (sports apps, cognitive training, wearable technologies, dental flossing, vaccinations, etc.) quantify life; they further transcend the frontier between natural and artificial, body and environment, and enhance and discipline performances as much as expectations. Preventive technologies address several individual and collective anxieties directed towards the future, but also towards the technology itself. And although not exclusively, we want to put a certain focus on technologies that target the aging person - her brain, body, and environment. Is there a specificity to preventive technologies that are slowing down, optimizing, transforming – even preventing, as some think – aging and decline? And can such a specificity ultimately result in rethinking prevention as a central concept in our lives?


In this symposium

  • We are interested in learning about how preventive technologies are being conceived, propagated, contested and used in different social and disciplinary contexts;
  • We invite case studies of technologies of prevention, from high tech to everyday technologies;
  • A central question we pose is how the lifecourse gets impacted by preventive technologies and how aging and the end of life might get reconceptualized through them;
  • Rethink “prevention”


Confirmed speakers:


Keynote: Deborah Lupton (UNSW Sydney)

A more-than-human perspective on prevention


Keynote: Stephen Katz (Trent U)

Age, Technology and the Lifecourse: Prevention by Design


Keynote: Klaus Høyer (U Copenhagen)

Prevention from a data political perspective – how we mobilize and experience data and what it means to trust a data prediction and act on that rather than symptoms


Thomas Alkemeyer and Andrea Querfurt (U Oldenburg)

Diagnosis, prevention and the shaping of the present by imagined futures


Marianne Boenink (Radbout U)

Time will tell: Intensified health monitoring and shifting conceptions of prevention


Melissa Park (McGill U)

Connectivity as prevention and the role of immersive technologies


Alexander Peine (U Utrecht)

Preventionist Technofutures - How prevention comes to matter in and matters through technology, policy and design


Mark Schweda (U Oldenburg)

Prevention as religion? Anti-aging Technologies and the hope for salvation


Nete Schwennesen (Roskilde U)

Surveillance and safety in dementia care


Virginie Tournay (CNRS, SciPo Paris)

Aging in a hyperconnected society. A little speculative fiction on the future of prevention


Ayo Wahlberg (U Copenhagen)

Living surveillance lives – the preventive chronicity of genetic risk


“Preventia” – The Specific Case of Dementia and Technologies of Prevention

  1. Germany (Silke Schicktanz, Shingo Segawa and Niklas Petersen)
  2. Canada (Annette Leibing and Cynthia Lazzaroni)
  3. Switzerland (Alessandro Blasimme and Mattia Andreoletti)

gedruckt am  31.03.2023