A Constant Torment. Tracing the Discursive Contours of the Aging Prostate

This project employs Medical Sociology, History of Medicine, STS & Medicine, and Feminist Science Studies in collaborative work around an evocative object, the aging prostate. It combines empirical rigor with an analytical interest in the practices surrounding medical technologies and their roles in how we conceive of and challenge gendered subject positions and bodily knowledges.

Each of the projects within this study traces the contours and textures of discourses that produce the aging prostate in different incarnations. Some examine cultural and historical constructions of the prostate as a node of pain, discomfort, and angst, using interviews and archive material. Others explore the medical discourses (including material semiotic practices), which enact the prostate as a discrete anatomical object to be physically examined and surgically removed, using observations, interviews, and analysis of medical discourses. And some projects delineate how the prostate is known and invoked in its absence, after surgical removal, using post-structuralist analysis of interview material.


In the project I am working with: Jelmer Brüggeman, Carina Danemalm-Jägervall, Jenny Gleisner, Sonja Jerak-Zuiderent, Alma Persson, Maria Björkman, Oscar Maldonado Castaneda, and Elin Björk.

The research is funded by a Swedish Research Council ”bidrag till framstående yngre forskare”.


Early results: Forskning & Framsteg - När prostatan gjorde mannen hysterisk Läkartidningen - Orgasmen förändras negativt men uteblivet ejakulat ingen stor förlust av Jägervall, Gunnarsson, Brüggemann

...for a general audience - Björkman, M. (ed) (2018) Prostatan – det ständiga gisslet? Mannen och prostatan i kultur, medicin och historia Nordic Academic Press


Prescriptive Prescriptions. Pharmaceuticals and 'Healthy' Subjectivities

This research explored how ‘healthy’ subjects are prescribed - defined and framed - by medical pharmaceuticals. It examined the cultural meanings and expectations attached to four prescription drugs, and compared the policies and practices around their use in two European countries, Sweden and UK. The drugs studied were the HPV vaccine (to prevent cervical cancer), hormone therapies to delay puberty, treatments for benign prostate hyperplasia, and drugs against Alzheimer’s disease. Methodologically, the work employed qualitative methods: textual analysis of marketing material, policy documents, and patient advocacy group material; observational fieldwork; and interviews with policy makers, medical practitioners and patient advocates.

The project had seven participants and was spread across two universities: Linköping University (Sweden) and Lancaster University (UK). Working on this team were Prof. Cecilia Åsberg, Prof. Celia Roberts, Dr. Oscar Maldonado Castaneda, Ali Hanbury, Lisa Lindén, and Tara Mehrabi.


The research was funded by an ERC Starting Grant. Completed 2017.





Tema Genus

Linköping University

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