Subproject 2


The Right to have a Say:
The Cochlear Implant and the Impositions of Hearing

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Beate Ochsner (University of Konstanz)

Markus Spöhrer
Robert Stock
Louise Haitz
Michel Schreiber
Philipp Speth


Sub-project 2 analyses the practices of the cochlear implant (CI), which is a medial link between human and non-human actors and thus either promises or prevents socio-cultural participation and the right to have a say.The sub-project thereby focuses on the mediation processes that enable or prevent the assembly of different actors in the context of the CI, as well as the related programs of action that are to be located between euphoria and refusal, claims and demands, promises of participation and practices of (self-)normalization. Hence, the CI is not to be understood as an artefact or a medical instrument, the study is much rather based on the conviction that the actors are produced in co-evolutionary processes and are adjusted in reciprocal adaptation processes in the context of which usages, programs of action and different formations of knowledge are com-municated. In doing so, the CI functions as „putty“ (Schroer 2008: 386), which separates and relates the upcoming biosocial communities equally and which, as a quasi-object, remains transformable and reusable in itself.

The studies in the sub-project are divided into three fields of research in order to analyse the medial conditions of community building and dissolution processes as well as those of ex- and inclusion. While research area 1 focuses on the medial conditions of collective or individual participation/non-participation in CI-communities, area 2, based on documentary film material, explores the audiovisual operations that, in equal measure, produce cultural knowledge on hearing, non-hearing and CI-hearing as they are fabricated by those practices. Finally, research field 3 concentrates on the analysis of ethical, socio-political, technical and philosophical discourses about the CI ranging from therapy to enhancement. Here too, the mediation processes of knowledge production on CI-subjectivisation and on CI-community building – as well as their mobilisation, functionalisation and exploitation – occupy a central position that regulates and determines the conditions of ex- and inclusion.