Just as individual bodies change with time, so does the body collectively. How long we live, how we conceive of dis/ability, how we eat and sleep and use technology—all are influenced as much by our moment in history as by our individual life stories. This month our writers take a look at the cultural and technological patterns that shape our somatic selves and cast their minds into the future, to think about the human body not simply as it is, but as it’s likely to be.
Maybe the future body will get fat, and think differently about size, shape, and power. Maybe it will get adaptive, and interact more—and more seamlessly—with elements of the built environment. Maybe the borders of reproduction will change, and expand the potential of who can gestate and give birth. Carmen Maria Machado, Sara Hendren, and Belle Boggs explore exactly these frontiers.
As the pace of advances in science and biotech quickens beyond anything we’ve seen, humans are able to exert a new level of control over our bodies. We harness and analyze data, we supplement, we synchronize. We have apps for optimizing everything from our sex lives to circadian rhythms. It seems the only element of the body that remains firmly beyond our command is its ultimate demise. And this too is explored in our current special, in Christina Crosby’s essay on injury and grief. Because while the Future of the Body may be brightly shimmering and full of forking possibilities, the future of each individual body is inexorable, low tech, as mundane and corporal as it ever was.