‘Mutant fish only’: Epistemic hybridity and the boundary work of medical illustrators
Keywords:medical illustration, professionalization, diversity and inclusion, boundary work
AbstractDrawing on two years of ethnographic research in North American graduate programs and professional gatherings for medical illustrators, my research builds on feminist studies of science and technology to understand how expertise and agency are negotiated in this female-dominated biomedical specialty. The disciplinary storytelling practices of medical illustrators navigate an insecure relationship to biomedical authority by reinscribing normative social hierarchies of gender, race, class, size and disability. When entering the profession, medical illustrators situate themselves as misfits and hybrids, straddling rhetorically opposed domains of ‘art’ and ‘science.’ In the course of their graduate education, this tension is resolved by recasting this epistemic border-crossing as ‘storytelling’ and communication of scientific knowledge to those without it. This boundary work contains the potential disruption of epistemic hybridity by constructing their work as fundamentally subservient to biomedicine, limiting the potential to challenge conventions of representation and inclusion in the profession.
How to Cite
Belsky, D. D. (2022). ‘Mutant fish only’: Epistemic hybridity and the boundary work of medical illustrators. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 18(2). https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-id492