Bodies without Borders: The Endoscopic Gaze

J. van Dijck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The movie fantastic voyage (1966) is not an innocent science fiction fantasy but a trope that concurrently underlies the development and implementation of a particular medical imaging technique: the endoscope. Sketching the past, present and future of endoscopy, this article advances the broader argument that medical imaging techniques and media technologies are developed concurrently. The endoscopic gaze - the look from within the body - has gradually become a pervasive mode of corporeal inspection, not only in high-tech medicine, but in television and other popular media as well. But what are the implications of this ubiquitous endoscopic gaze? how may innovations in endoscopic technologies - including the latest virtual techniques - affect doctors’ and patients’ concepts of corporeality? and do these innovations, in turn, affect our collective appreciation of surgical intervention and its consequences? persistent myths of transparency and non-intervention have prevailed in both the production and popular dissemination of the endoscopic gaze, redefining our norms and expectations concerning the perfectibility of the body as a physical container.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-237
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

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