Phantom Limbs and Invisible Hands: Bodies, Prosthetics, and Late Capitalist Identifications

Essay Excerpt

A vexing political and intellectual question posed by the current configuration of space and time—called variously post-Fordism, globalization, newtimes, or the postcolonial—is how to understand the relation between the body and the body politic. How are individual human bodies made to matter (Butler 1993) by, through, and in more collective identifications like gender, nation, race, or class, which are themselves always within, shot through, and embracedby "global" forces like colonialism, feminism, anthropology (and its metaphors), and finance capital with its attendant maquila production, toxic waste, flexible specialization, and poverty? Is it possible to talk about the interconnections, networks, and world systems feedback loops that sustain bodies politic without losing our feel for the bodily violences of historically ensconced power differentials? Contrariwise, is it possible to hold in mind the wounds caused by such inequalities without assuming either that global forces always get what they want, or a sense of body politics as always purely resistant to such forces? (304).

Nelson, Diane M. "Phantom Limbs and Invisible Hands: Bodies, Prosthetics, and Late Capitalist Identifications." Cultural Anthropology 16.3(2001): 303–313.

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