Public Culture 16.2 (2004) vii-viii
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The body that genuflects raises a host of provocative questions about global cultures of governmentality. The very term genuflect—literally, to bend the knee—carries a particular history of worship. After all, the knee bent, as well as the hat doffed, was one of the key corporeal sites in which struggles over the disciplinary power of the Roman Catholic Church were made visible during the long European Reformation. These struggles to refashion the body in relation to new modes of worship and new doctrines of the secular and the sacred predated the rise of manufactory capital and the regulated lines of the factory floor. They are, however, almost immediately deployed in the practices of New World chattel slavery and redeployed by freedmen challenging American post-Civil War racial regimes (Biman Basu). If by worship, therefore, we simply mean the reverence, or pursuit, of something with quasi-divine qualities, then worship can bend the back of the body and shape the poetics of the mind in ways that include spacing out in front of a slot machine (James Rizzo), contouring a national body (Ivor Chipkin), and cross-pollinating symbolic forms such as mangoes, Mao medallions, and genealogical charts (Michael Dutton). Goddesses that stretch across the Taiwan Strait, mediated by televisual technologies, challenge the supreme deity of the state (Mayfair Mei-hui Yang) even as elsewhere the capital-oriented neoliberal state is installed as an ontotheological end of man (Ann Anagnost) only to be undermined by the other systems of (black market) televideo circulation (Brian Larkin). Something is being pursued in such a way as to evoke terms like sacred, genuflect, worship, or feelings like prophesies that could come to pass. Each of the essays in this volume—and the volume as a whole—slices into the genuflected body through an ethnographically rich analysis that places this body decisively in a global history of disciplinary modes of power. [End Page vii]
Public Culture is delighted to announce that Brian Keith Axel's essay "The Diasporic Imaginary" (Public Culture 14 [spring 2002]: 411-28) was awarded the 2003 Boyer Prize for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Anthropology by the Society for Psychological Anthropology.
Elizabeth A. Povinelli