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Bodies

We reassess and reconceptualise the political constitution of the body and the self, as a means of tackling afresh the crucially linked questions of 'what it is to be human' and 'what it is to be a political being'.

We reassess and reconceptualise the political constitution of the body and the self, as a means of tackling afresh the crucially linked questions of 'what it is to be human' and 'what it is to be a political being'.

About the programme

The key insight that the programme explores is that the body and the self are not pre-political. Acknowledging the role of the body in politics represents a shift in the unit of analysis, from the abstract individual (whose body is conceived of as simply a container) to embodied intersubjective selves. The mind/body logic which regards bodies as primarily passive and/or dangerous, which excluded women, the working class, ethnic minorities, and others from the political realm, has not been fully overcome by the ad hoc political emancipation of such groups. Social discrimination and marginalisation in policy making remain.

The body and its relation to politics is a newly articulated problem, although some of the effects of the problem have long been recognised. The programme introduces the idea of the 'bodymind' to highlight the conceptual overcoming of the mind/body dichotomy, seeing this new unit of analysis as irreducibly political.  The term 'bodymind' spells out the inter-connectedness of body and mind and does not reintroduce the predominance of mind over body. The research is keen to explore the variety of ways in which bodies do/can/might/should enter politics, and to investigate alternative positive images of the body in politics other than that of the 'good' body of the participating citizen who transcends their corporeality.

Programme Director

Dr Raia Prokhovnik