The Body as Archive
Trying to become a public historian and freelance writer in grad school is requiring me to walk a difficult tightrope. I want to be as authentic as humanly possible, but I’m also a professor-in-training; I don’t want to put anything out into the world that I would have trouble explaining to a hiring committee, to my colleagues, or to my students. As a result, I often find myself debating the merits of a post. The problem with this particular brand of censorship is that it’s entirely too fuzzy. I haven’t articulated to myself what constitutes fair game. How personal do I want to get? How personal do I need to get?
That’s why, on August 28 — after much hemming and hawing — I ultimately decided to write about a medical procedure I was about to undergo. I want to live in a world where academics living with disabilities aren’t afraid to “come out” for fear of the cultural and institutional ableism to which it would expose them. Telling my own story is a risky, but necessary, step in that process.
Mine was a routine procedure, but as with most medical procedures, there also was nothing routine about it. The following is an excerpt from that post, a post that I knew needed to see the light of day in large part because the thought so petrified me. At the end is a brief summary of the procedure itself, and where I find myself today.
I had my MRI Arthrogram on August 29, and — thanks to an innovative radiologist — got through the procedure with much less pain than I have in times past. Unfortunately, the cortisone injection did not alleviate my pain. The MRA was very helpful in revealing what wasn’t wrong, but — much to the surprise of both myself and my surgeon — did not yield a diagnosis.
And so, the journey continues. I’m now in physical therapy, and making (very) slow but steady progress. I’m extremely optimistic that, while it will take a long time to recover, I will be able to do so without surgical intervention. Until then, my archive remains open, if only just a crack.
Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14:3 (October 1988): 575–599. doi:10.2307/3178066.
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret M. Lock. “The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 1:1 (March 1987): 6–41. doi:10.2307/648769.
- Donna Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Feminist Studies 14:3 (October 1988), 580. Return to text.
Andrea Milne is a SAGES Teaching Fellow and Full-Time Lecturer in the Department of History at Case Western Reserve University. Her current research focuses on the nurses who developed the first AIDS ward in the United States. She received her PhD from the University of California, Irvine in 2017.