In the last three decades, the human body has gained increasing prominence in contemporary political debates, and it has become a central topic of modern social sciences and humanities. Modern technologies – such as organ transplants, stem-cell research, nanotechnology, cosmetic surgery and cryonics – have changed how we think about the body.
In this collection of thirty original essays by leading figures in the field, these issues are explored across a number of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, including pragmatism, feminism, queer theory, post-modernism, post-humanism, cultural sociology, philosophy and anthropology. A wide range of case studies, which include cosmetics, diet, organ transplants, racial bodies, masculinity and sexuality, eating disorders, religion and the sacred body, and disability, are used to appraise these different perspectives.
In addition, this Handbook explores various epistemological approaches to the basic question: what is a body? It also offers a strongly themed range of chapters on empirical topics that are organized around religion, medicine, gender, technology and consumption. It also contributes to the debate over the globalization of the body: how have military technology, modern medicine, sport and consumption led to this contemporary obsession with matters corporeal?
The Handbook’s clear, direct style will appeal to a wide undergraduate audience in the social sciences, particularly for those studying medical sociology, gender studies, sports studies, disability studies, social gerontology, or the sociology of religion. It will serve to consolidate the new field of body studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: the Turn of the Body Body, Self and Society 1. Simone de Beauvoir and Binaries of the Body 2. Pragmatism’s Embodied Philosophy: From Immediate Experience to Somaesthetics 3. Norbert Elias and the Body 4. Embodied Practice: Martin Heidegger, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault 5. My Multiple Sick Bodies: Symbolic Interactionism, Autoethnography and Embodiment 6. Feminist theory: Bodies, Science and Technology 7. Foucault’s Body What is a Body? 8. Layers or Versions? Human Bodies and the Love of Bitterness 9. Phenomenology and the Body 10. Social Constructionism and the Body 11. From Embodied Regulations to Hybrid Ontologies: Questioning Archaeological Bodies 12. Social Brains, Embodiment and Neuro-Interactionism Religion and the Body 13. Relics of Faith: Fleshly Desires, Ascetic Disciplines and Devotional Affect in the Transnational Sathya Sai Movement 14. The Body and the Veil 15. Recomposing Decimated Bodies Medical Regimes and the Body 16. Death Signals Life: A Semiotics of the Corpse 17. Beyond the Anorexic Paradigm: Re-Thinking ‘Eating’ Disorders 18. Disability, Impairment and the Body 19. The Body, Social Inequality and Health 20. Health and the Embodiment of the Life Course Gender, Sexualities and Race 21. Chinese Male Bodies: A Transnational Study of Masculinity and Sexuality 22. Male Bodies, Masculine Bodies, Men’s Bodies: The Need for a Concept of Gex 23. Racialized Bodies Technologies and Body Modification 24. Getting Work Done: Cosmetic Surgery as Constraint, as Commodity, as Commonplace 25. Modified Bodies: Texts, Projects and Process 26. Questions of Life and Death: A Genealogy 27. Rejecting the Aging Body 28. Conclusion: The Varieties of My Body: Pain, Ethics and Illusio
Bryan S. Turner is the Presidential Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York USA and the Professor of Social and Political Thought at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. His publications include The Body & Society (Sage, 2008) and he edited The Routledge Handbook of Globalization Studies (2010).