Science, Environment, and the Material Self
Publication Year: 2010
How do we understand the agency and significance of material forces and their interface with human bodies? What does it mean to be human in these times, with bodies that are inextricably interconnected with our physical world? Bodily Natures considers these questions by grappling with powerful and pervasive material forces and their increasingly harmful effects on the human body. Drawing on feminist theory, environmental studies, and the sciences, Stacy Alaimo focuses on trans-corporeality, or movement across bodies and nature, which has profoundly altered our sense of self. By looking at a broad range of creative and philosophical writings, Alaimo illuminates how science, politics, and culture collide, while considering the closeness of the human body to the environment.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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This book began before the edited collection Material Feminisms, but took longer to complete. In the process, Bodily Natures was enriched by the scholarship in Material Feminisms as well as by many fruitful theoretical discussions with my co-editor, Susan J. Hekman. Susan’s extensive knowledge of feminist theory and philosophy and her friendship have been invaluable. I am also grateful to my ...
1 Bodily Natures
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Karen Barad and Joy Williams alert us to the rather shabby theoretical and rhetorical treatment of “matter” and “environment” in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Matter, the vast stuff of the world and of ourselves, has been subdivided into manageable “bits” or flattened into a “blank slate” for human inscription. The environment has been drained of its blood, its lively ...
2 Eros and X-rays: Bodies, Class, and “Environmental Justice”
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What does it mean for the body to “know” something as seemingly abstract as one’s place within a class system? “Knowing” may not be the best term, as it poses “the body” as a facsimile of a rational human subject. Such an epistemology demands complication, especially when we consider that the most legitimized forms of knowing the human body require the instruments and institutions of ...
3 Invisible Matters: The Sciences of Environmental Justice
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The Hawk’s Nest tunnel incident discussed in the previous chapter illustrates how racism can materialize across bodies and places. Most scholarly contestations of race since the 1980s have employed social constructionist arguments to demonstrate that race is a social, not biological category, forged within a history of economic and political oppression, not simply found “in nature.” Interrogating ...
4 Material Memoirs: Science, Autobiography, and the Substantial Self
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In Audre Lorde’s poetic language, the strands of the self can be understood as part of the weave of history, culture, economics, and power; tracing those strands constitutes an act of black feminist consciousness-raising. But Lorde’s account in The Cancer Journals is, appropriately, much more visceral than the term consciousness-raising would imply. The “bloody self-referenced” strands testify that ...
5 Deviant Agents: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
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Whether it is a syndrome, illness, disability, disease, allergy, or psychosomatic condition, whether it is called multiple chemical sensitivity, environmental illness, chemical injury, chemical intolerance, total allergy syndrome, universal reactor syndrome, chemically induced immune disregulation, or even twentieth-century disease, the terminological maelstrom suggests that this medical ...
6 Genetics, Material Agency, and the Evolution of Posthuman Environmental Ethics in Science Fiction
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Wired magazine’s cover story featured “Craig Venter’s Epic Voyage to Redefine the Origin of Species”: “He wanted to play God, so he cracked the human genome. Now he wants to play Darwin and collect the DNA of everything on the planet.” Venter is portrayed as an intrepid explorer who having already “conquered the human genome” (Shreve 112) is now traveling the world to master the ...
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Page Count: 210
Illustrations: 6 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010