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About the event

Self-management—defined as “management of or by oneself; taking responsibility for one's own behavior and well-being”—is a term that crops up in diverse contexts across contemporary culture, from corporate PowerPoints that extol lean labor to diet blogs and internet support groups for dealing with chronic pain. Media studies scholar Amy Herzog will present new research exploring self-management in relation to digestion and the human microbiome, with particular attention to how neoliberal attitudes inflect the burgeoning market for designer gut-health regimens. Herzog will examine the rhetoric of self-betterment and self-control at play in digestion-focused internet communities, discussing psychosomatic connections between cultivating intestinal flora and regulating emotion. She will be joined by gastroenterologist and writer Nitin Ahuja to discuss the current vogue for microbial management, as well as other forms of digitally mediated self-help, including ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos. Inspired by Tasha Bjelić’s work Untitled (2015), on view in Soft Skills, and related to his previous writing on the YouTube phenomenon of clinical pantomime, Ahuja will address the simulated intimacy of ASMR culture, in which strangers role-play caregiving through tender voices and soothing scenarios.

Herzog’s presentation is an offshoot of “My Colony,” a research project commissioned by Triple Canopy.