Robot Nurses

Unexpected item in bagging area! Machines can provoke many emotions, including rage and anxiety. But can they also care?

In Episode 2 of “Living With Feeling”, historian of nursing Sarah Chaney meets some care robots and discusses with experts what these machines are for, and what they can offer. Sarah probes the potential and the limitations of care robots – and looks at historical ideas from earlier eras about emotional qualities, including fortitude and compassion, which would be shown by the ideal human nurse. Sarah and her interviewees also discuss the idea of “emotional labour” and also the racial and gendered stereotypes associated with nursing that are embodied in the way robot nurses are designed.

Dr Sarah Chaney is a historian of nursing and emotions. Her most recent book is Am I Normal? The 200-Year Search for Normal People (and Why They Don’t Exist). She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions. @KentishScribble

Robots in this episode came from the Can Robots Care exhibition at the Thackray Museum of Medicine (Paro and Miro)

Dr Amelia de Falco, is Associate Professor Of Medical Humanities at the University Of Leeds @AmeliaDefalco

Prof. Rena Papadopoulos is Professor of Transcultural Health & Nursing at Middlesex University, London @irena_pap

Prof. Anna Romina Guevarra is Associate Professor and Founding Director of the Global Asian Studies Program at the University of Illinois Chicago @AnnaRGuevarra

Amanda Gwinnup is a PhD candidate at the University of Huddersfield researching the post-war experiences of disabled WWI nurses @WW1NurseHist

Professor Pam Smith is Professorial Fellow and former Head of Nursing Studies in the School of Health in Social Science Edinburgh University.

“Living With Feeling” is produced by Natalie Steed, and supported by the Wellcome Trust, for the Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions.

The Emotions Lab