Cultivating Students’ Bodies: Producing Physical, Poetic and Sociopolitical Subjectivities in Elite Schools
How do elite schools cultivate students’ bodies to mobilize social aesthetics, and form specific identities and subjectivities? How are these students’ subjectivities linked to power and ideology? And how are students’ bodies and subjectivities framed in relation to the nation, the region and the globe? This chapter develops cultural anthropologist Arjun Appadurai’s notion that ‘histories produce geographies and not vice versa’ through our contention that not only do histories produce geographies, there are also certain types of bodily identities that are historically produced in particular places. In the context of two elite schools, in Cyprus and Barbados, we are interested in the ways in which students’ bodies are materialized and normalized in certain ways in these elite schools through social aesthetics.
We examine the physical body in relation to sport and the political and ideological boundaries that exist in between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot students. Boundaries dominate the real and imagined landscape on the island and the school is one of the few sites that makes an active attempt to cross them. It is, however, also a site in which cultural, social and historical forces interact to ensure their preservation. We will consider sport as one means of breaking through boundaries but also as a site where conflicting ideologies meet. The use of the body in this space of social aesthetics or its withdrawal from it, is a means by which students attempt to maintain control of their own ideology and identity.
We also look at the ways in which poetics and politics contribute to the representation of particular kinds of radicalized bodies. We will consider the aesthetic and political dimensions of real or imagined bodies and elaborate on how this links to bodies as subjects and the articulation of subjects, the State, politics and economy. In the Barbadian school, the content of the students’ artwork is intrinsically linked to the promotion of an ‘ideal Caribbean’ identity, as a means to leverage regional affiliation and as a way to compete on a global stage.
KeywordsBritish Colonialism Class Class International Olympic Committee Head Teacher Elite School
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