Embodying knowledge of breast cancer in a disembodied community?
Faculty of Education and Arts
Office of Assoc Dean - Research and Higher Degrees (FEA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Australian Research Council
ARC Number : LP0990807
Few life experiences have a greater impact upon the sense of self than the diagnosis of a life-challenging illness. Breast cancer is such an illness, and the sudden transition from 'well' to 'ill' is unsettling for a person's sense of knowing who they are in 'their' own body. What you know about your body, what others know about your body and what your biology knows about your body become suddenly problematic. This paper addresses what people know about their bodies before and after experiencing a breast cancer diagnosis by examining relevant theory and empirical data drawn from an online community for people with breast cancer, their families and supporters. In the Breast Cancer Click (BCC) online community members are encouraged to blog their breast cancer journey, engage in discussion forums, use a private messaging function to talk in real-time with each other and a breast care nurse, and to participate in live group chat. The records of all these activities have been used in a netnographic study which aims to examine the efficacy of this mutual support community. In this paper we present some of the material which has been created in the community’s activities to consider the embodied experience of breast cancer. Evidence from online community members is addressed to consider what a western cultural experience of breast cancer as captured by a disembodied online community can tell us about embodiment and embodied knowledge.
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