Re/membering the Body

  • Margrit Shildrick


My chapter traces the development and implications of re/membering the body, following on from the somatophobia of early 2nd wave feminist scholarship that saw attention to bodily matters as a potential point of hostile ambush. Where the conventional tropes of modernism insist on a conceptual split between mind and body, and recognize only one form of ‘proper’ embodiment, postmodernist thought has supported a reinstatement of the corporeal. The turn away from the rigid binaries of dominant ways of thinking – whether in the humanities or sciences – has mobilised not simply the emergence of a feminist phenomenology of embodiment, but a growing appreciation of the place of the sciences in understanding the materiality of the body. At the same time, the extension of challenging bioscientific technologies directed to the body and its practices indicates that the recovery of fleshiness is not a final step. More radically, contemporary bioscience demands a reconsideration of what it means to be human. My approach relies on the concept of leaky bodies and stresses that instability and fluidity are the catalyst for alternative, more productive ways of thinking about corporeality and embodied subjectivity. As the boundaries of the body and of the human are ever more contested, it becomes clearer why the resulting sense of exposure to otherness in all its forms, and the inherent vulnerability of the contingent self, necessitate a new configuration of bioethics. The encounter with otherness –those unlike myself in terms of morphology or putative origin; prosthetic supplementarity; or the intracorporeality of the microbiome - speak to a corporeal ethics that understands risk and vulnerability as the very possibility of becoming.

Key words

corporeality bioscience vulnerability bioethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tema GenusLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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