STS Helsinki seminar 4.5. with Venla Oikkonen

Our spring seminar series continues with Venla Oikkonen on Thursday 4.5.! Join us for the seminar at Unioninkatu 35, room 113, at 14:15–15:45, or via Zoom:

Anticipating adverse effects: Living with pharmaceuticals in chronic illness

In this presentation, I explore the concept of adverse effect in the context of hormonal pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic illness in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body, causing inflammation and pain. As an estrogen-dependent illness, endometriosis is treated today primarily with hormonal products such as oral contraceptives and hormonal IUDs. Drawing on interviews with people diagnosed with endometriosis, I examine how concerns about potential adverse effects structure expectations of and personal decisions about treatment. The case sheds light on how uncertainties concerning pharmaceuticals’ effects are conceptualized and assessed among their actual users. Approaching anticipation of adverse effects as affective work, I analyze how unknown future outcomes of medications are negotiated in relation to the temporality of chronic illness as well as embodied memories of past adverse effects. I also examine the affectively charged temporality of adverse effects, especially the perceived distinction between a temporary, reversible effect and a permanent, irreversible outcome.

Venla Oikkonen is an Academy Research Fellow and Associate Professor at Tampere University. She is the author of two books, Population Genetics and Belonging (Palgrave Macmillan 2018) and Gender, Sexuality and Reproduction in Evolutionary Narratives (Routledge 2013) as well as a number of articles on genetic ancestry testing, affect, epidemics and immunity, and gender and sexuality in popular science. She leads an Academy of Finland and Kone Foundation funded project Gendered Chronic Disease, Embodied Differences and Biomedical Knowledge (GenDis).