IHPST Colloquium Fall 2023, First Talk: Professor Kristin Zeiler

When and Where

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
VC 215
Victoria College
91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


The Fall 2023 Colloquium series of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology is organized by Professor Elise K. Burton. The IHPST Colloquium provides a platform for both visiting and local scholars to present their latest research in the fields of history, philosophy, and science and technology studies.

This semester, we are excited to host two talks, the first one, is titled "The Biomedicalisation of Ageing and Cognitive Decline in the Swedish Welfare State and Agency as an “I Can” of Embodied Subjectivity - What is the Added Value of Bringing STS and Critical Phenomenology into Dialogue with Each Other?" will be presented by Professor Kristin Zeiler from Linköping University.

We are looking forward to your presence at the IHPST Colloquium. Please note that this is a hybrid event. You are welcome to attend in person at Victoria College (91 Charles Street) Room VC215 or join via Zoom. To get the link please contact IHPST.info@utoronto.ca

Save the date for the second talk, Professor Jessica Ratcliff (Cornell University) will join us on November 15 from 2-4 p.m. Details will be forthcoming


Some elderly persons attend to their own cognition in a vigilant mode and ask for and undergo testing of their cognition via primary care, when noting possible symptoms. For some, being tested is experienced as existentially challenging and a felt concern with one’s cognition can linger also if the screened person is told that the test results didn’t indicate cognitive decline. Others, however, are offered screening of their cognition as part of the routines when admitted to the geriatric ward at a local hospital in Sweden. Such patients have narrated the screening as a positive “check-up” and the screening tests as “good to take” while also stating that they associate the screening with dementia and describe dementia as fearsome. Engaging with these findings (Zeiler et al 2022; Zeiler et al 2023), the overarching aim of this talk is to show and discuss possible analytic gains of bringing perspectives from STS and critical phenomenological philosophy into dialogue with each other in the analysis of agency, norms about how to act as one ages, and biomedicalisation of ageing and cognitive decline.  

The presentation unfolds in three steps. First, I engage with Clarke et. al.’s biomedicalisation framework (2010) and take up Kelly Joyce and Laura Mamo’s (2006) call for attention to the biomedicalisation of ageing. I zoom in on the positioning of problems and solutions, and positionings of subjects and government, within Swedish national dementia and cognitive impairment recommendations and outline a few key processes of biomedicalisation of aging and cognitive impairment in the Swedish welfare state. Second, I turn to phenomenological philosophy of Merleau-Ponty and to critical phenomenological accounts of agency as a tacit “I can” of embodied subjectivity, and as enculturated and intercorporeally shaped. This allows for a philosophical discussion of the formation of a felt sense of how one should attend to one’s cognition as one ages. Third, I point to what I see as the value of bringing insights from STS and critical phenomenological philosophy into dialogue with each other in an analysis of agency as an “I can” of embodied subjectivity in a context that is, at least partly, characterized by a biomedicalisation of ageing and cognitive decline.  

Contact Information

IHPST Information




91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7