The Transformative Power of X-Rays in U.S. Scientific & Medical Litigation: Mechanical Objectivity in Smith v. Grant (1896)
Perspectives on Science 21, No. 1 (2013): 23-57
Posted: 23 Jan 2013
Date Written: January 22, 2013
The paper locates the struggle to mobilize and regulate the immense social and cultural power inherent in X-rays’ capacity to remotely anatomize the living body power within the discursive space of the turn-of-the-century American courtroom. The paper pioneers use of extant court records in the seminal case of Smith v. Grant, the first American medical malpractice case in which an injured plaintiff successfully introduced X-ray evidence against a physician. The paper demonstrates how X-ray images catalyzed crucial changes in the American law of scientific and medical evidence and facilitated a novel regime for their regulation that continues to reverberate in the present.
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