Foetal space in real time: on ultrasound, phenomenology and cultural rhetoric

Grimwood, Tom ORCID logo ORCID: (2017) Foetal space in real time: on ultrasound, phenomenology and cultural rhetoric. Meta : Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology and Practical Philosophy, 9 (1). pp. 86-104.

[thumbnail of Foetal Space in Real Time.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License CC BY-NC

Download (329kB) | Preview
Official URL:


The development of four-dimensional ultrasound pre-natal scans carries with it an intriguing range of philosophical questions. While ultrasound in pregnancy is a medical test for detecting foetal abnormalities, it has also become a social ritual in Western culture. The scan has become embedded within a discourse of the parent’s ante-relationships with their future child as much as it is a screening function. Within such a scene, the advance of technology – the move, for example, the increasing addition of dimensions to pre-natal imaging, from 2D to 3D and 4D – is inextricably merged with the spatial rhetoric of the foetus. Drawing on both Heidegger’s insights into the relationship between the human and technology, and debates within feminist cultural theory, this paper explores how these spatial and temporal rhetorics of the foetal ultrasound relate to the philosophical motifs around self, knowledge, gender and the technical image. It charts these relationships through an analysis of two classic images of the foetal self, before considering how the fourth dimension of ultrasound – that of real-time image streaming of a foetal scan – enhances, develops and critiques these motifs.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Meta : Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology and Practical Philosophy
Publisher: Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi
ISSN: 2067-3655
Departments: Institute of Health > Psychology and Psychological Therapies
Depositing User: Tom Grimwood
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2017 09:25
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 17:45


Downloads per month over past year

Downloads each year

Edit Item