This book investigates how and why the criminal law differentiates between different types of body alterations, with particular reference to how they are conceptualised within legal discourse. By drawing connections between types of body alteration that have traditionally been considered separately and discretely, the book allows analytical conclusions to be made about the law’s treatment of the general category of ’body alteration’ rather than merely about specific types of body alteration. Taking legal discourse as its analytical focus, the author critically examines a number of case studies to determine the techniques and processes by which some body alterations are discursively constructed as legitimate and legally approved, and by which other body alterations are discursively constructed as illegitimate and legally sanctioned. Specifically, the body alterations that are addressed include sadomasochistic injuries; female genital modification and male circumcision; cosmetic surgery, body modification and healthy limb amputation; and sex reassignment surgery and genital ’normalisation’ surgery. International in scope, the discursive analysis in the book will be of interest to academics and researchers working in the areas of socio-legal and cultural studies.
Theodore Bennett is an Assistant Professor in the School of Law, University of Western Australia. His research interests are in the areas of criminal law, law and the body, law and society, and legal discourse.
'Theodore Bennett has provided a theoretically nuanced, skilful, and compelling account of law’s troubled relationship with body shaping practices. Providing the first sustained account, Bennett’s is a rich and sensitive analysis that deserves in turn to shape how we debate law's uneven and inconsistent responses to these embodied practices.' Michael Thomson, University of Leeds, UK ’This book is an ambitious, cogent and at times provocative study of the authority of legal and medical discourse to define the parameters of criminalisation in relation to bodily alterations. In demonstrating the ways in which law and medicine interact in producing and promoting certain accounts and versions of reality at the expense of others, Bennett offers a powerful analysis of the discursive positioning of material subjectivity that will engage an international and cross-disciplinary audience.’ Sharon Cowan, University of Edinburgh, UK