Though the body may appear to be where we are most individual, it is also the material form of the body politic, the class body, the racial body, and the body of gender. The struggle for control over the meanings and pleasures (and therefore the behaviors) of the body is crucial because the body is where the social is most convincingly represented as the individual and where politics can best disguise itself as human nature.
-- Fiske, 1989, p. 70
It should be a commonplace that what we know of the world we know through our bodies, but the implications of this idea are far from obvious. Bodies aren't simple objects defined by a surface of skin--they're intersections through which organic and chemical flows circulate; and except in extreme cases they're always augmented and extended in some way, from the wearing of clothing to the use of tools like computers. Bodies are also inscribed with complex social markers like gender, race, and social class, and the meanings of such inscriptions often change as bodies age, and also affect how bodies age. Economic and political forces, along with organizational fields, shape bodies, instill in them certain dispositions, and most important, situate them in flows of activity that move them physically in certain ways and connect them to distant activities spread across space and time ( Nespor, 1994). In order to understand life as experienced through the body, then, we must look at the processes--some of them at least--that organize people in space and time.
In some parts of childhood, bodily movement itself organizes space and charts the shapes of pleasures and pains. Kids value settings for the possibilities they allow for bodily play and performance. When the Thurber fourth graders drew maps of their neighborhoods, they drew spaces they inhabited bodily--houses, yards, parks--and described their days as itineraries of embodied play and activity. Their greatest pleasures were bound up in performances of physical exuberance that