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Henderson asks: What constitutes a human body?

Heike Henderson, professor of German in the Department of World Languages, recently presented “AI, Crime and Gender: Investigating the Role of the Body” at the Captivating Criminality Conference in Bamberg, Germany. Her research examined the role of gender in society and crime fiction of the future. Focusing on Tom Hillenbrand’s techno thrillers “Hologrammatica” (2018) and “Qube” (2020), she explored the permeability of borders between bodies and machines at a time when robots become more and more like humans, and humans can incorporate more and more artificial enhancements.

Henderson says techno thrillers alert us to the fact that in the not-so-distant future, definitions of fundamental concepts like identity, body, and humanity might become even more fraught and complicated. As she writes, “Will gender still be a feasible category to identify and classify human beings, when the basic question of what constitutes a human body is open to interpretation?”