1st Edition

Rethinking the Body in Global Politics Bodies, Body Politics, and the Body Politic in a Time of Pandemic

By Kandida Purnell Copyright 2021
    180 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    180 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book rethinks the body in global politics and the particular roles bodies play in our international system, foregrounding processes and practices involved in the continually contested (re/dis)embodiment of both human bodies and collective bodies politic.

    Purnell provides a new, innovative, and detailed theory of bodily (re)making and un-making that shows how bodies are simultaneously (re)made and moved and (re)make and move other bodies and things. Presented in the form of reflective/reflexive and theoretically innovative essays, the book explores: bodies in general and their precarious, excessive, ontologically insecure, and emotional facets; the fleshing out of contemporary necro(body)politics; and the visual-emotional politics embodied through the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The empirical analyses feed into contemporary IR debates on British and American politics and international relations and the Global War on Terror, while also speaking to broader and interdisciplinary, theoretical literature on bodies/embodiment, visual politics, biopolitics, necropolitics, and affect/emotion, and feelings.

    Rethinking the Body in Global Politics: An Introduction

    1. On Bodies

    2. Body Politics

    3. The Body Politic

    4. Conflicted Bodies

    Rethinking the Body in Global Politics: Some Conclusions


    Kandida Purnell is Assistant Professor of International Relations who has previously published on the body politics of the Global War on Terror, war (un)commemoration, and war performance and army/artist collaboration. Kandida continues to collaborate with Natasha Danilova and Emma Dolan on the Carnegie-funded ‘War Commemoration, Military Culture, and Identity Politics in Scotland’ project while her solo research into ‘Feeling COVID-19’ and ‘Bringing Bodies Back: Repatriation and War Performance within Forever War’ are ongoing.

    "Purnell masterfully interweaves the global and the local, demonstrating how the materiality of bodies is essential to properly understanding the functioning of international politics. Making inroads into rethinking the ontology of bodies by examining topics ranging from war to global health, she demands that we consider how the body is itself a contested site, materially and rhetorically disassembled in ways that are politically significant. By drawing on auto-ethnographic and rich textual methods, she offers an incisive and reflective contribution that is sure to provide a model for narrative work in global politics."

    - Jessica Auchter, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, USA.

    "Rethinking the Body in Global Politics is one of the most exciting, inspiring and disruptive books I have read. Bodies might have been neglected by the discipline of International Relations, but there is no escaping the body here. Kandida Purnell takes us on a valuable detour outside the usual disciplinary frames to draw attention to the processes (dis-)embodiment that render certain bodies so vulnerable to death and injury. In doing so, she adds some much needed theoretical flesh and empirical muscle to our once barren disciplinary bones."

    - Thomas Gregory, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

    'It is an amazing book.'

    - Lucy Easthope, Professor in Practice of Risk and Hazard at the University of Durham and Fellow in Mass Fatalities and Pandemics at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath; author of When the Dust Settles (2022). 

    'It is a tour de force of contemporary debates in IR – including on emotion, affect, the body, embodiment, necropolitics, ontological security, & auto-ethnography.'

    - Sophie Harman, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 2022