The body in theory

Callard, F. J. (1998) The body in theory. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 16(4), pp. 387-400. (doi: 10.1068/d160387)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


Geographers are now taking the problematic of corporeality seriously. ‘The body’ is becoming a preoccupation in the geographical literature, and is a central figure around which to base political demands, social analyses, and theoretical investigations. In this paper I describe some of the trajectories through which the body has been installed in academia and claim that this installation has necessitated the uptake of certain theoretical legacies and the disavowal or forgetting of others. In particular, I trace two related developments. First, I point to the sometimes haphazard agglomeration of disparate theoretical interventions that lie under the name of postmodernism and observe how this has led to the foregrounding of bodily tropes of fragmentation, fluidity, and ‘the cyborg‘. Second, I examine the treatment of the body as a conduit which enables political agency to be thought of in terms of transgression and resistance. I stage my argument by looking at how on the one hand Marxist and on the other queer theory have commonly conceived of the body, and propose that the legacies of materialist modes of analysis have much to offer current work focusing on how bodies are shaped by their encapsulation within the sphere of the social. I conclude by examining the presentation of corporeality that appears in the first volume of Marx's Capital. I do so to suggest that geographers working on questions of subjectivity could profit from thinking further about the relation between so-called ‘new’ and ‘fluid’ configurations of bodies, technologies, and subjectivities in the late 20th-century world, and the corporeal configurations of industrial capitalism lying behind and before them.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Callard, Professor Felicity
Authors: Callard, F. J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
ISSN (Online):1472-3433

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record