MAKING THE BODY NATURAL
Since its introduction in the early decades of the twentieth century, the hormonally constructed body concept has gradually developed into a dominant mode of conceptualizing the body, even to such an extent that we are encouraged to assume that the hormonal body is a natural phenomenon. But what exactly is required to transform a scientific concept into a natural phenomenon? I suggest that an answer to this question can be found in one of the distinctive features of science and technology: its striving for universal, decontextualized knowledge. Scientific concepts attain the status of natural facts in a twofold process. First, scientists create the contexts in
which their knowledge claims are accepted as scientific facts and in which their technologies can work. Scientists adopt what I would call a “(re) contextualization strategy” in which their knowl-edge claims can gain momentum. Second, scientists then conceal the contexts from which scientific facts and artefacts arise, in a process which I will refer to as a “decontextualization strategy.”1 One of the reasons why science succeeds in convincing us that it reveals the truth about nature is that the social contexts in which knowledge claims are transformed into scientific facts and artefacts are made invisible. Science makes us believe that its knowledge claims are not dependent on any social context. During the development of science and technology the established links with the worlds outside the laboratory are naturalized. “There was, or so it seems, never any possibility that it could have been otherwise” (Akrich 1992:222).