Digital technology has recently been embraced by both the private and public sector as an innovative solution to the so-called “epidemic” of child obesity. While technology is often blamed for leading to sedentary lifestyles, a host of interactive tools from video games to mobile activity trackers now promise to help kids develop “healthy habits” of exercise and nutrition. This talk situates the rise of digital health platforms within a larger shift in the gendered and racialized management of bodies and populations over the past century, in which the pursuit of physical and emotional health has become linked to new affective economies of pleasure and consumption. Questioning what is at stake in the pursuit of health as a normative ideal, this presentation explores how health has come to denote the condition of possibility for greater freedom, happiness, and fulfillment even as discourses and practices of health continue to serve as the basis for regulating gender, sexuality, race, class, and dis/ability.
Karisa Butler-Wall holds a Ph.D. in American Studies with a graduate minor in Feminist and Critical Sexuality Studies from the University of Minnesota. She is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Macalester College.