What kind of body does our current society demand?

Blackman, Lisa. 2022. What kind of body does our current society demand? In: M Emgreen and I Dragset, eds. Useless Bodies? Milan, Italy: Fondazione Prada. ISBN 9788887029802 [Book Section]

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What it means to have and be a body is paradoxical and this is reflected in the multiplicity of bodies that are both demanded and lived under racial capitalism. On the one hand we are invited to see and experience the human body as a singular stable category or “thing” with discrete boundaries that houses a distinct self. There are borders between self and other, inside and outside, human and technical that keep me in my place and you in yours. We may or may not feel at home in our bodies and this might present problems but there is a whole apparatus of self and social regulation that is there to help. We can outsource this problem, this perhaps alien feeling of misalignment between body and self, to an infrastructure of people, things, technologies, expertise, and practices who support the fiction of unity. We might consider who feels more at home in their bodies and who doesn’t? What does it mean to feel at home in one’s body? Who has the luxury and privilege of feeling at home in one’s body? Body as a container of self is big business, lucrative, and necessary for capitalist relations, aided by advancements in technology, architectural and organizational dynamics, longer histories, and social fantasies. It has a momentum of its own appearing, disappearing, and reappearing in different contexts and settings to shape normative desire. This short essay explores some of the paradoxes of what it means to have and be a body responding to the question What Kind of Body does our current society demand?

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


August 2021Submitted
12 February 2022Accepted

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Date Deposited:

30 May 2022 10:52

Last Modified:

30 May 2022 10:52



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