Events update

Vital Circulations Final Workshop: A Short Illustrated Report

In a post pandemic world, the social dynamics of vital circulations have been laid bare. People have come to realize, more acutely than ever, how the spread of the virus never took place in a vacuum and different social structures, and marginalizations, have come to shape people’s experiences of COVID-19, and beyond. The Vital Circulations network was set up to understand how the circulations of vital matters intersect with social boundaries and hierarchies. It is in this context, after a series of symposia organized by the network (which were initially planned to be face to face but ended up being online due to the pandemic), the network finally met face to face again, just like the inception event.

We also had the company of Laura from NiftyFox for the day, who livescribed the workshop and transformed it into beautiful illustrations.

Our inception event had a focus on the materiality underpinning vital circulations and our final workshop try to draw on our different attempts in the symposia to develop a theory of vital circulations, and think through its different dimensions; for example, a central focus of the day was to think through what turn circulations into circuits, the classifications and the ontological transformations in this process, and the directionality of circuits.

To kick off the day, we reflected on our symposia series and its takeways. Throughout our symposia series, we interrogated different kinds of vital circulations in many different contexts. The first symposium on biomes, buildings and bodies highlighted the built environment of vital circulations and underpining this is a historical reflection on our changing relations with biomes. We then reflected on the second symposium on tissue donation, which highlighted the structural and ethical dimensions of vital circulations. The third symposium, on the other hand, focused on vial data and highlighted the challenges we face as the world becomes increasingly detafied and how to make sense of the different promises such as AI and real world data in the fields relating to health.

You can see an illustrated summary of the symposia series here:

Next, we tried to think through what can and cannot be captured by the concept of vital circulations and tried to develop it as a framework to unpick health inequality. A key distinction the network pondered on is the distinction between vital circulations and vital circuits. Is it possible or permissible to think of vital circulations as the uncontrollable flow of vital matters and vital circuits as the efforts to control and regulate the flow? We had a debate on whether this distinction would hold and what we want to achieve with this distinction, and what may be left out in this distinction, or are we indeed talking about the same things with the two terms?

Each member of the network was asked to interrogate this theoretical framework drawing on their own research, so we heard from a good mix of perspectives on what is meant by vital circulations and vital circuits. This includes in the context of health services, in the context of law, in terms of immunitary circuits, among others. Since the conceptual framing of vital circulations could encompass different kind of relationality on many different levels, we also tried to think through the key dimensions of vital circulations, which could include temporality, spatiality, vitality, actor and agency, as well as the metrification and valuation that go in it. We also talked about some future plans for the network.

You can see some beautiful illustrations of the discussion here:

In the context of health services, there is a brief discussion on how people with different health conditions would interact with the network of health services and individuals’ pathways through this network. Thinking about this in the context of circuits would highlight the need for better coordination of pathways to facilitate the individuals’ journeys through care.

This is a brief recap of the event and keep tuned for more updates from the network in the future!

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