Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

[Matter] is not little bits of nature, or a blank slate, surface, or site passively
awaiting signification, nor is it an uncontested ground for scientific, femi
nist, or Marxist theories. Matter is not immutable or passive. Nor is it a
fixed support, location, referent, or source of sustainability for discourse.

—Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway

And the word environment. Such a bloodless word. a flat-footed word with
a shrunken heart. a word increasingly disengaged from its association
with the natural world. Urban planners, industrialists, economists, de
velopers use it. It’s a lost word, really. a cold word, mechanistic, suited
strangely to the coldness generally felt toward nature.

—Joy Williams, Ill Nature

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 . . .

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