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Anthropology of Medicine and the Body Block 4

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Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon

on 20 October 2017

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Transcript of Anthropology of Medicine and the Body Block 4

Towards a Queer Phenomenology (Ahmed)

Phenomenology helps us explore how bodies are shaped by histories, which they perform in their comportment, their posture, and their gestures.

In the case of sexual orientation, it is not then simply that we have it. To become straight means not only that we have to turn toward the objects given to us by heterosexual culture but also that we must turn away from objects that take us off this line. The queer subject within straight culture hence deviates and is made socially present as a deviant.

Rather, certain objects are available to us because of lines that we have already taken: our life courses follow a certain sequence, which is also a matter of following a direction or of being directed in a certain way (birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, reproduction, death)

The lines that direct us, as lines of thought as well as lines of motion, are in this way performative: they depend on the repetition of norms and conventions, of routes and paths taken, but they are also created as an effect of this repetition. To say that lines are performative is to say that we find our way, we know which direction we face, only as an effect of work, which is often hidden from view.

I would say that being oriented in differ-ent ways does matter, precisely because of how spaces are already oriented, which makes some bodies feel in place, or at home, and not others. Orientations affect what bodies can do: it is not that the object causes desire but that in desiring cer-tain objects, other things follow, given how the social is already arranged. It does make a difference for women to be sexually oriented toward women, in a way that is not just about one’s relation to an object of desire.
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Caster Semenya
"This silence is emblematic of the way in which athletes from poor countries seldom complain about the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to unfair advantage; that they are disadvantaged from the start.
In developing countries all aspects of sports are under-resourced. School programmes barely exist. Even elite athletes struggle to find a track to practice on or a coach to work with – never mind the sophisticated nutritional, psychological and biomechanical performance enhancement available to those in the developed world. Forget marginal gains, these are massive ones. The idea that testosterone levels could constitute an unfair advantage in this climate is laughable." (Sisonke Msimang, Daily Maverick, 2016)

" This investigation, arising because she does not conform to some ideal body type, is absurd and raises the spectre of colonial pseudo-science and eugenics. She will be investigated by "medics, scientists, gynaecologists and psychologists" – a procedure strongly resonant of colonial endeavours to make the bodies of African men and women, and their supposed racial and sexual differences, the object of science. All this displays not only an inexcusable lack of concern for Semenya, but also an outmoded and dangerous approach to classifying human difference". (Wilhelm-Solomon, 2009)
Body Orientations
and Choreopolitics

They impose blockades, contain or channel demonstrators, disperse crowds, and sometimes even literally lift up and drag bodies around. Choreographically as well as conceptually, the police can thus be defined as that which, through its physical presence and skills, determines the space of circula-tion for protesters, and ensures that “everyone is in a permissible place” (Deleuze 1995:183).
TURF FEINZ RIP RichD Dancing in the Rain Oakland Street | YAK FILMS
In the rain, standing at the corner as cars pass by, the contemporary
polis presented as basically being constituted by two major distributions of movement: the road, where cars circulate according to rules and regulations; and the sidewalk where pedestrians, and particularly black youth, are supposed to above all move along and are not supposed to loiter, dance, or “do nothing

One movement, multiple singular modes of expressing it. And because this circulation takes place against the proper predisposition of the city’s regulations for “moving along,” because it goes against the no-loitering and curfew-for-minors
laws targeting so many African American and Latino neighborhoods, because it erupts literally against the police presence in the neighborhood, because it is a circulation in dissensus, we must call this particular movement:

What TURF reveals, and particularly the dance of No Noize, Man, BJ, and Dreal, is that a certain nonauthoritarian/authoritative, and perhaps even nonauthorial notion of choreography, is the occasioning for a political thing to come into the world as movement and circulate through subjects
The purpose of choreopolicing, then, is to de-mobilize political action by means of implementing a certain kind of movement that prevents any formation and expression of the political. Choreopoliced movement can thus be defined as any movement incapable of breaking the
endless reproduction of an imposed circulation of consensual subjectivity, where to be is to fit a prechoreographed pattern of circulation, corporeality, and belonging.

and Kobolo (Quayson)
To specifically positio the kobolo and the gymmer as particular types of interpreter of the urbanscape is not to say these scripts are the only things they read. Rather it is to note the specificity of their mode of reading, which as we have seen previously , is imbued with the sense of the transitional dimensions of urban life …The coupling of discursive repertoires from Western sources of robust athletic masculinity with versions of such ideas that have been historically circulated in Ghana, along with invocations of thoroughly Ghanaian multilingual urban scripts, positions gymmers and kobolo at the intersection of tradition and modernity, of the local social imaginary and the transnational imagescape. They are also at the very conjuncture of the difficult processes of self making that are enforced upon them by the overabundance of free time.
Let us begin from an empirical given: police intervention in
public spaces does not consist primarily in the interpellation of
demonstrators, but in the breaking up of demonstrations. The
police is not that law interpellating individuals (as in Althusser's
"Hey, you there!") unless one confuses it with religious
subjectification.[12] It is, first of all, a reminder of the
obviousness of what there is, or rather, of what there isn't:
"Move along! There is nothing to see here!" The police says that
there is nothing to see on a road, that there is nothing to do but
move along. It asserts that the space of circulating is nothing
other than the space of circulation. Politics, in contrast, consists
in transforming this space of 'moving-along' into a space for the
appearance of a subject: i.e., the people, the workers, the
citizens: It consists in refiguring the space, of what there is to do
there, what is to be seen or named therein. It is the established
litigation of the perceptible, (Ranciere, Ten Theses on Politics)
Tania Bruguera –
Tatlin's Whisper #5
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Impairment, Debility, Disability
Debility – the impairment,
lack or loss of certain bodily abilities

While “impairment”, like “debility”, refers to functional differences or losses in the body, ‘disability’ is a more complex term. It refers to the social challenges that stem from particular forms of bodily configuration” (7)

Disability is a biosocial identity that
is at once both biologically grounded and socially parsed (Livingston, 2005)

Impairment – “my body, my embodiment”

disability “the social repression of disabled people, the fact that disabled people have limited housing options, we don’t have career opportunities, we’re socially isolated, in many ways there’s a cultural aversion to disabled people … the disabling effects of society” (Sanaura Taylor, The Examined

“How do people navigate, or move within, the world around them? How do discourses of physical ability (capable/debilitated) and mental acuity (slow/fast) shape social possibilities? How do they shape academic scholarship and social policy?” Ralphs (2012, 3)

Movement Politics attends to four related genres of movement—social movement politics,
social mobility in economic and political aspirations, physical debility/disability, and the
spectacle of the disabled body in commodified arenas (whether music, publishing, film, or sports)—with each constituent article placed in a deliberate sequence to enhance and
enrich insights that emerge from the one that precedes it.”


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Daley - Humanitarianism
as "neo-imperialism"

Fassin - Humanitarian government -
"the introduction of moral sentiments into
the public sphere"

Redfield - Humanitarianism as
"minimalist" biopolitics
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