"Are You High?": Emotional geographies of everyday life with diabetes

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Hanks, Gentry
Diabetes , Emotional Geographies , Archives , Opensource Mapping , Textmining , Reddit , Lifeworlds , Feminist Geographies , Cyborg , Biomedical Waste , Digital Ethnography , R , Diabulimia , Governmentality , Biocitizenship , Biohacking , Insulin
Geographies of everyday life intersect diabetes in interesting ways with emotional and physical consequences. How do those with diabetes seek and create spaces of freedom from these consequences in everyday life? Looking to archival materials and social media discourse, I use a geographical, feminist lens to argue that the diabetic body is a place, a site, for historical and current applications of biomedical technologies that have embodied, emotional consequences for lifeworlds of people with diabetes. Before the discovery of insulin, everyday life with diabetes consisted of persistent high blood glucose levels, starvation diets, calorie counting, hopelessness, diminished lifeworlds, and early death. Now, nearly a century later, for those with access, treatment of diabetes may include the use of an increasing number of pharmaceutical innovations and technological devices to quantify and manage life with diabetes. These pro- grammed/programmable devices are interfaced with human flesh, described as part of an individual’s body and identity, creating diabetic cyborgs. Those embodying these devices seek liberation from negative consequences by hacking them, meaning to use or program the devices in ways not intended or against medical advisement, in order to individualize improvements to the device’s function. Management of diabetes produces personal biomedical waste from daily use of ‘disposable’ items. I use Reddit data to show how some seek freedom from the burden of waste management, while others seek freedom from guilt within a framework of biocitizenship.
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