“Modified (Hu)Man: Traditions, Vulnerabilities and Possible Futures” Panel at the “Iran at the Crossways: Documentaries and Dialogues on a Changing Society” Film Forum

Friday, November 12th, 2021, 7:00 p.m. [CET]

Modified (Hu)Man: Traditions, Vulnerabilities and Possible Futures

(introduction by Dr. Melike Şahinol)

Body modifications are used not only to “repair” injuries or enable recovery after illness but also to enhance human performance. Consequently, we would like to highlight the practices and symbolic effects of such interventions. What are their empowering potentials, but also what are the emergent vulnerabilities of bodies in general? The films of this thematic block focus on the traditions, vulnerabilities, and possible futures of diverse body modifications in relation to gender as a social construct. They illustrate individual journeys of different bodily perceptions and interventions through time and space by showing the relationship between nature, culture, and the body with science-art as well as cultural and fictional contributions. In doing so, they raise questions about the relationships between socio-cultural coding of body modifications and notions of technology in science, art, and culture. In the center of the film screening stands the Iranian feature film Stepfather’s Legacy that revolves around a man who is ready to get married and undertakes techno-medical modification efforts as an investment in his corporeal capital. A series of four short films from the “BIO·FICTION Science Art Film Festival” encourages the audience to reflect on the social implications of emergent technologies. By taking a fictional look ahead, we raise the question: Quo vadis, Modified (Hu)Man?

7:15 p.m. [CET]

Films (in screening order)

0:02, 2018, USA, Emma Allen, oD

A “Grey Matters” collaboration between artist Emma Allen and neuroscientist Daisy Thompson-Lake, Adam is an animated portrait illustrating some of the underlying neurological processes and emotions associated with depression.

Aphasia Mechanica
0:03, 2010, USA, Daniel Warner, oD

Black and white impressions of mechanical parts in the human body.

Stepfather’s Legacy
1:07, 2015, Iran, Nima Mahdian, OmdU

A man who is planning to marry suffers from hair loss and baldness, leading him to experiment with various forms of medical treatment and even surgery. Although his efforts are an investment to boost his position on the marriage market, they ultimately expose the vulnerabilities of his masculinity.

Carlottas Gesicht
0:05, 2018, Germany, Valentin Riedl & Frédéric Schuld, dt./OV

As a child, Carlotta didn’t expect the people around her to have faces. She didn’t even recognize her own face. Years later, she learns about a rare, untreatable deficit of her brain. It was art, after all, that offered her a way to finally recognize herself.

The Auxiliary
​0:08, 2018, Belgium, Frédéric Plasman, OmdU

Alone in front of her reflection in a collapsing world, someone desperate, feeling unfairly discredited, is going to end it all. But who is she and why?

9:00 p.m. [CET]

Round Table [EN]

Moderation: Melike Şahinol

Panel discussion with Başak Ağın, Sümeyra Buran, Claudia Liebelt, Nacim Pak-Shiraz and Christopher Coenen.

Short biographies of the panel discussants

Başak Ağın, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English Literature and a faculty member at TED University, Ankara, Turkey. She has authored a Turkish monograph Posthümanizm: Kavram, Kuram, Bilim-Kurgu (Posthumanism: Concept, Theory, Science-Fiction, 2020) and edited Ekofobi Hipotezi (2021)—M. Sibel Dinçel’s Turkish translation of Simon C. Estok’s The Ecophobia Hypothesis (2018). Currently, she is editing a Turkish handbook of environmental, medical, digital, and posthumanities,  co-editing Ecofeminism and World Literature: African, Middle Eastern, and Asian Perspectives with Douglas Vakoch and Posthuman Pathogenesis: Contagion in Literature, Media, and Arts with Şafak Horzum. 

Sümeyra Buran is a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of California Riverside (from Istanbul Medeniyet University) since she was awarded a research grant by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) in 2018. She is the founding and coordinating editor of Journal of Posthumanism, the editor of Posthumanism Series by Transnational Press London, a committee member of BIPOC at the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA), and a country representative (Turkey) at the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA). She is the editor of a collection Edebiyatta Posthümanizm (2020) by TpLondon, co-editor with Sherryl Vint of a collection book Technologies of Feminist Speculative Fiction: Gender, Artificial Life, Reproduction (2021) by Palgrave, co-editor with Jim Clarke of a collection Religious Futurisms (2022) and the author of a monograph Su-fi: Sufi Science Fiction to be published by Routledge (2022).

Christopher Coenen is senior researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (KIT-ITAS). At ITAS since 2003. Before moving to Karlsruhe in 2009, based in Berlin at the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Parliament (TAB), which is run by KIT-ITAS. As team member or project leader, he has conducted more than 15 projects on behalf of such institutions as the German Parliament, the European Parliament and the European Commission. Currently, he is, amongst other things, in charge of the coordination of the EU-funded project SYNENERGENE on synthetic biology, a large-scale stakeholder and public dialogue and agenda-setting action plan with more than 20 partners from three continents, and the Editor in Chief of the journal NanoEthics (Springer). Among his main fields of interest are a wide variety of societal, political, philosophical, and cultural aspects of synthetic biology, nanotechnologies and neurotechnologies, and the ‘human enhancement’ topic.

Claudia Liebelt is Professor in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Free University of Berlin. Her research foci are in the Anthropology of the Body and the Senses, Gender, Religion and Sexualities. She has authored Caring for the ‘Holy Land’: Filipina domestic workers in Israel (Berghahn, 2011) and has edited a volume on Beauty and the norm: debating standardization in bodily appearance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Her second monograph on Istanbul Appearances: Beauty and the Making of Middle-Class Femininities is currently under review.

Nacim Pak-Shiraz is Personal Chair of Cinema and Iran at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on cinema and visual culture in the Middle East, particularly Iran. Professor Pak-Shiraz has also curated a number of film festivals in Edinburgh, and has been as a jury member and speaker at several international film festivals in the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iran.

The panel “Modified (Hu)Man: Traditions, Vulnerabilities and Possible Futures” is organized by Melike Şahinol, Burak Taşdizen and Gülşah Başkavak. “Iran at the Crossways: Documentaries and Dialogues on a Changing Society” film forum is organized as part of IRSSC, and is part of Max Weber Foundation’s project Knowledge Unbound, and is funded by German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

“Entangled Empowerment: Connecting Shared Hair Transplantation Practices for Men in Turkey and Iran” presented at the “Connecting Themes Conference: Contested Knowledge in a Connected World” in Berlin

Burak Taşdizen presents the selected findings of “Hair:y_less Masculinities: A Cartography”. Photograph: Kamyar Nematollahy.

Dr. Melike Şahinol and Burak Taşdizen presented the selected findings of the ongoing research project “Hair:y_less Masculinities: A Cartography” at the “Connecting Themes Conference: Contested Knowledge in a Connected World” organized by Max Weber Foundation in Berlin, Germany on September 16-17, 2021.

Their paper titled “Entangled Empowerment: Connecting Shared Hair Transplantation Practices for Men in Turkey and Iran” was part of the thematic discussion “Reshaping Gender Norms: The Intersections and Transformations of Gendered Empowerment” chaired by Prof. Christina von Hodenberg of German Historical Institute London. We share below the paper abstract.

Irrespective of gender, techno-medical possibilities are causing profound transformations in the human body, promising empowerment.  As a result, there is a growing cultural enthusiasm for cosmetic surgery, revealing itself in the promotion of a range of cosmetic treatment options tailored towards men and women alike in billboards placed around metropolitan areas of Turkey and Iran, the two of the most popular global destinations for health and beauty. These two countries, compared to the world, stand out with the number of hair transplantations carried out for men regarding their facial and chest hair. Connecting these two countries through their shared hair transplantation practices for men, we aim to discuss unifying but contested elements of masculinities construction that are intertwined with empowerment.

We discuss three dimensions, enabling and contesting the emergent empowerment through hair transplantation practices. First dimension regards purity and cleanliness, which could often be traced to religious meanings and affects. Secondly, empowerment is framed by socio-political currents as in different moustache and beard styles often associated with specific socio-political attitudes. Last dimension points to the emergent beauty norms often related to emergent masculinities. Our qualitative research discloses individual yet connected empowering practices and techniques around hair transplantation entangled with the three above-mentioned dimensions reshaping masculinities.  

Şahinol & Taşdizen, 2021

You could read more about the conference here, and find the conference program here.

“Colonizing Men’s Bodies: Natureculture Metaphors Around Hair Transplantation” presented at the panel “Is There a Middle Eastern Body?”

Dr. Melike Şahinol and Burak Taşdizen have presented the selected findings of the ongoing research project “Hair:y_less Masculinities: A Cartography” at “I U A E S: The Re-invention of Traditions in the Middle East” conference at the panel “Is There a Middle Eastern Body?” chaired by Prof. Dr. Claudia Liebelt and Dr. Melike Şahinol. The presentation titled “Colonizing Men’s Bodies: Natureculture Metaphors Around Hair Transplantation” discussed the narratives of medical practitioners and patients which utilize natureculture metaphors to explain the hair transplantation process, both during and after.

The conference was hosted by Orient-Institut Istanbul via Zoom on August 7-9, 2021.

ONLINE SURVEY: Hair:y_less Masculinities (20 mins.)

Our research was affected by the pandemic. Hence, our methodological shift towards an online survey. We invite you to participate in the survey, which you can access from the link below.

Our survey takes about 20 minutes. We would appreciate, if you could allocate your time. Your answers will be anonymized. Language options in English, Turkish and Persian are available on the top right.

Survey link: https://ww2.unipark.de/uc/OII_HairylessMasculinities/

We thank you very much for your contribution in advance.

We hope you are staying well and supported during this difficult time.

New Publication: “Medicalised Masculinities in Turkey and Iran: The Eigensinn of Hair in Hair Transplantation”

We are happy to announce that our article “Medicalised Masculinities in Turkey and Iran: The Eigensinn of Hair in Hair Transplantation” is now published on the new special issue “Medicalised Masculinities – Somatechnical Interventions” of Somatechnics Journal by Edinburgh University Press. We thank the Editors-in-Chief Holly Randell-Moon and Iris van der Tuin, the Guest Editors Karen Hvidtfeldt, Michael Nebeling Petersen, Kristian Møller, Camilla Bruun Eriksen and anonymous peer-reviewers whose careful, constructive critiques helped refine the article. You can access the article here, and Guest Editors’ introduction along with other special issue articles here.


Growing cultural enthusiasm for cosmetic surgery and the techno-medical modification of the body have had a considerable impact on men in recent years making it the driving force behind the medicalisation of masculinities (Syzmczak and Conrad 2006). Among the top five cosmetic procedures most frequently chosen by men are laser hair removal in the category of cosmetic minimally invasive procedures and hair transplantation in the category of cosmetic surgical procedures (American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2019). Turkey is the world’s leading destination for medical services and a leading country of medical tourism. Its beauty tourism is particularly noteworthy making the country attractive for ‘demand-oriented’ and ‘wish-fulfilling’ cosmetic procedures for the West, the Middle East as well as locals. With a special emphasis on the somatechnics of shaping men’s hair, this article analyses the currents of hair transplantation practices and after-care in shaping masculinities in Turkey and its regional competitor Iran. By building on the existing literature, we extend the discussion on male haircare with hair as the bios as part of emerging socio-bio-technical entities.

Workshop: Medicalized Masculinities

Knowledge Exchange from Denmark to Turkey
October 20, 2020, 9AM – 11:20 AM, CEST
Orient-Institut Istanbul

The workshop is being organized by the Orient-Institut Istanbul as part of the project titled “A Cartography of Hair:y_less Masculinities. A Comparison between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey” and University of Southern Denmark as part of the project “Medicine Man: Media Assemblages of Medicalized Masculinity”.

The workshop will bring together different researchers from Denmark and Turkey with the aim to explore possibilities and limits of cooperation around medicalized masculinities with its cultural, social and religious interconnections, to exchange knowledge and expertise by collecting theoretical and methodological inputs from different perspectives, and to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration.

Workshop Participants
Melike Şahinol (Orient-Institut Istanbul)
Karen Hvidtfeldt (University of Southern Denmark)
Michael Nebeling Petersen (University of Southern Denmark)
Kristian Møller (University of Southern Denmark)
Mie Birk Jensen (University of Southern Denmark)
Signe Rom Rasmussen (University of Southern Denmark)
Burak Taşdizen (Orient-Institut Istanbul)  

4S/EASST 2020 Conference Programme is out!

As we mentioned earlier, we will present our preliminary research results at the upcoming 4S/EASST 2020 conference. Our paper is titled “Everyday Cyborgs: Men with Implanted/Transplanted Hair (and its Eigensinn).” To read our abstract and go through the abstracts of other presentations in the session, visit here. See below for time/date details.

Tue, August 18, 10:00 to 11:40am CEST (11:00am to 12:40pm IST), virPrague, VR 04.

To see the entire conference programme, please visit here.

“Everyday Cyborgs: Men with implanted / transplanted hair (and its Eigensinn)” accepted for panel #174 EASST/4S Prague 2020 Virtual Meeting

We are very happy that we will be able to present our abstract on Everyday Cyborgs: Men with implanted/transplanted hair (and its Eigensinn) (see below) in the panel #174 Techniques of Resilience. Coping with the Vulnerabilities of Hybrid Bodies by Nelly Oudshoorn during the virtual meeting of EASST/4S Prague 2020 “Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and Agency of STS in Emerging Worlds” to be held between August 18 and August 21. We will be discussing our project A Cartography of Hair:y_less Masculinities. A Comparison between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey to a certain extent with approaches to understand the techniques of resilience as an important component of conceptualizing  vulnerabilities and part of the cyborg theory.

Everyday Cyborgs: Men with implanted/transplanted hair (and its Eigensinn)

Melike Şahinol (Orient-Institut Istanbul), Burak Taşdizen (Orient-Institut Istanbul)

In recent years techno-medical reconfigurations of men’s bodies, an example to which are interventions in balding due to aging (Syzmczak and Conrad 2006), has medicalized men’s bodies and thus masculinities A reason for this is that cosmetic surgery has become not only more accessible (Edmonds 2009) but also more popular among men with hair transplantations/implantations being one of the most chosen cosmetic surgical procedures by men (American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2019).

Extending the focus on ‘body companion technology’ from the concrete technologies implanted into/on the body/ies, towards including emerging biotechnical entities, such as (synthetic) hair and its implantation/transplantation processes, this research focuses on men’s bodies and their materialization as ‘everyday cyborgs’ through hair implantation/transplantation procedures. Concentrating on men undergoing such procedures in clinics in Turkey and Iran, we argue that these procedures could be regarded as empowerment of vulnerable subjects for they enable self-actualization. As these procedures are embedded in a web of biopolitical currents (i.e. economy, professional settings, etc.), consolidation of gender differences through the reproduction of a particular type of masculinity could be underway.

Considering the self-will (Eigensinn) of the bios, and thus hair, our complementary to the body companion technology concept helps to see hair as biotechnical entity, with the agency to reject its new territory, requiring ongoing care on part of the patient’s body. Thus, this research conceptualizes the techno-medical (re)locations of hair in men’s bodies within a “socio-bio-technical framework” (Şahinol 2016) and scrutinizes how and the ways in which these ‘everyday cyborg’ bodies deal with emergent vulnerabilities.


American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2019. 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report.

Edmonds, Alexander. 2009. “Learning to love yourself: esthetics, health, and therapeutics in Brazilian plastic surgery.”  Ethnos 74 (4):465-489.

Şahinol, Melike. 2016. Das techno-zerebrale Subjekt: Zur Symbiose von Mensch und Maschine in den NeurowissenschaftenTechnik – Körper – Gesellschaft. Bielefeld: transcript.

Syzmczak, Julia E., and Peter  Conrad. 2006. “Medicalizing the Aging Male Body: Andropause and Baldness.” In Medicalized Masculinities, edited by Dana Rosenfeld and Christopher A. Faircloth. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Research Colloquium at Orient-Institut Istanbul

“Cartography of Hair:y_less Masculinities” was presented by Dr. Melike Şahinol and Burak Taşdizen at the Research Colloquium held by Orient-Institut Istanbul on April 1, 2020, followed by a Q&A session with a participating audience from Germany, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. The colloquium was moderated by Dr. Katja Rieck.

The colloquium took off with a welcome speech delivered by Prof. Dr. Raoul Motika and followed by the presentation and a discussion.

Dr. Melike Şahinol discussed the theoretical framework for the study, which brings together biomedicalization, post-human feminism, and masculinity studies. Later, Burak Taşdizen disseminated the preliminary research results from the fieldwork that has been continuing since February, 2020. The preliminary research results indicate that there are cultural differences of hair practices in Turkey and Iran and thus different masculinities taking shape through hair:y_less. Not only socio-cultural or socio-political factors were discussed, but also historical and geographical connotations for the shaping of post-human masculinities.

The colloquium took place online, via Zoom, due to physical distancing required by COVID-19 outbreak.

Call for Interview Participants

As part of our sociological research project on hair and masculinities, we are looking for men from Turkey or Iran to talk to about their experiences in

  • hair / beard / moustache transplants
  • bodily hair removals

The interview lasts around 45 minutes, and your answers will be anonymized. It will take place in an online setting of your choice including but not limited to Skype and / or WhatsApp.

If you are willing to participate in our study, please contact our project coordinator Burak Taşdizen at tasdizen@oiist.org.

See the flyer below.

“The Medicalization of Bodies Is a Gendered Practice” Interview with Burak Taşdizen

Burak Taşdizen talked to Max Weber Stiftung on his previous and current research projects, and his research practice in general, including the research project “Cartography of Hair:y_less Masculinities”.

In our research on the re-mapping of hair in men’s bodies by (non)medical practices, it was surprising to see how medicalization of bodies is a gendered practice, yet the literature was mostly focusing on medicalization of women’s bodies such as the post-natal or menopausal female body. Although there are historical accounts on men and their hair practices, medicalization of these practices via current technologies remains relatively unexplored in the social sciences. In the past years, more and more men have started to consult medical expertise to (re)shape their bodies, examples of which are hair/beard/moustache transplants. These procedures, for which Istanbul has become a global hub attracting patients from not only Europe and the Middle East but also from overseas countries such as Brazil, help men regain a more accepted look in society so long as they subscribe to societal norms. Such interventions on men’s bodies become especially interesting when considering the plurality of masculinities, in which only some of them are desired and others are not, and how technologies take active part in the negotiation and (re)shaping of bodies and thus gender.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Workshop: “Technology and the Body: Care, Empowerment, and the Fluidity of Bodies”

As part of the project, we had an internal workshop titled “Technology and the Body: Care, Empowerment, and the Fluidity of Bodies” on 21 January, 2020 at Orient-Institut Istanbul. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, the workshop brought together two research fields of Orient-Institute Istanbul, namely, “Human, Medicine and Society”, and “Study of Religions”, each with a distinctive approach to the study of body.

Find the workshop program here.