Identity and governance of bodily extensions: the case of prosthetics and avatars


  • Prof Sita Popat

    University of Leeds

Project summary

Prosthetics and avatars can both be defined as forms of bodily extension – one mechanical, the other digital. Both are used widely in everyday life, yet research into their impact upon users’ lived experiences has been approached with different emphases. Medical research into prosthetic limbs has tended to focus on functionality, while research into avatar usage has tended to focus on embodiment, social identity, interaction, legal ownership and rights. This project brings together researchers from rehabilitation medicine, law, digital performance and media to apply multiple perspectives to prosthetic and avatar bodily extensions.

Professor Popat aims to answer three key questions. How do different forms of bodily extension impact on experiences of embodiment and being in the world? How do body image and social identity relate to the design and function of bodily extensions? How far are bodily extensions defined and acknowledged medically, in information technology and in human rights law?