Barry Saunders Awarded the 2009 Bateson Prize

SCA is proud to award the first annual Gregory Bateson Prize to Barry F. Saunders (U North Carolina, Chapel Hill) for his book CT Suite: The Work of Diagnosis in the Age of Noninvasive Cutting published by Duke University Press.

The world of visual diagnosis wrought by computed tomography and conducted in “CT suites” in hospitals around the country receives extraordinary attention in this finely tuned work at the crossroads of anthropology, art criticism, literary history, philosophy, and science studies. Explaining how this state-of-the-art technology bears the legacy of its origins in nineteenth-century visual cultures—from camera obscuras, to early photography, to mass exhibitions—Saunders argues for an abiding historical consciousness in a world that is normally understood as ephemeral, urgent, and of the moment. Refreshing in method and style, the book offers detailed transcripts of recorded interactions, analyzed in succinct, wry, illuminating passages that occasionally take us far from the hospital, but never far from the kernel of the issues at hand. With beam for scalpel, a CT is an autopsy on the not yet dead. At the same time, its process is filled with death-like moments: from the stilling of the body in the machine to the seeking of consistencies between pathological samples of “real flesh” and CT cuts. In lively conversation with the work of Walter Benjamin and Edgar Allen Poe, CT Suite reveals the history of the senses that lurks at the heart of modern medical sleuthing and the aesthetic disciplines on which contemporary medical knowledge rests.

The Bateson Book Prize Committee would also like to recognize four Honorable Mentions from this year’s shortlist:

Jessica Cattelino
High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke)

This beautifully written ethnography offers a rich sense of how Seminole categories of value have evolved in the changing political economy of south Florida and American settler colonialism writ large. Cattelino’s book leaves the reader with a nuanced appreciation of how all forms of sovereignty are more interdependently configured and less autonomous than normally assumed.

Gayle Greene
Insomniac (California)

An accomplished Shakespeare scholar at Scripps College turns ethnographer, sleep specialist, and science detective in this funny, moving memoir that reveals just how little the contemporary medical community knows about the world of sleeplessness that plagues so many. Stay up late and visit her website at:

Susan Greenhalgh
Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng's China (California)

In this ambitious project, Greenhalgh persuasively makes the case for a new anthropology of policy. Meticulously tracking the competing forms of expertise that were levied during China’s controversial move to a one-child-rule, she brings to life the extraordinary influence of personal charisma, social structure, and institutional legacy on a movement that affected millions.

Chris Kelty
Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke)

The morphing world of information architecture—with its assumptions about property, public spheres, and the right to free speech—may seem too fast a moving target for some to grasp. But Chris Kelty does just this in a multi-sited work that brings to life the production of cyber-knowledges that we rely on every day and shows how operating systems and social systems reproduce themselves at multiple tiers of influence.

About Gregory Bateson

Among anthropology’s most distinguished experimental thinkers, Gregory Bateson (1904-1980) and his diverse body of work have long been emblematic of what the SCA was founded to promote: rich ethnographic analysis that engages the most current thinking across the arts and sciences. Welcoming a wide range of styles and argument, the Bateson Prize looks to reward work that is theoretically rich, ethnographically grounded, and in the spirit of the tradition for which the SCA has been known—interdisciplinary, experimental, and innovative. To learn more about the life and work of Gregory Bateson, please visit the website of the Institute for Intercultural Studies.