Social Bodies

Social Bodies

Helen Lambert
Maryon McDonald
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 194
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qdch4
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  • Book Info
    Social Bodies
    Book Description:

    A proliferation of press headlines, social science texts and "ethical" concerns about the social implications of recent developments in human genetics and biomedicine have created a sense that, at least in European and American contexts, both the way we treat the human body and our attitudes towards it have changed.

    This volume asks what really happens to social relations in the face of new types of transaction - such as organ donation, forensic identification and other new medical and reproductive technologies - that involve the use of corporeal material. Drawing on comparative insights into how human biological material is treated, it aims to consider how far human bodies and their components are themselves inherently "social."

    The case studies - ranging from animal-human transformations in Amazonia to forensic reconstruction in post-conflict Serbia and the treatment of Native American specimens in English museums - all underline that, without social relations, there are no bodies but only "human remains." The volume gives us new and striking ethnographic insights into bodies as sociality, as well as a potentially powerful analytical reconsideration of notions of embodiment. It makes a novel contribution, too, to "science and society" debates.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-897-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Helen Lambert and Maryon McDonald

    That apparently singular object, the human body, has been the focus of much discussion in both academic and public quarters recently, with striking claims being made for fundamental changes in our attitudes towards the body and its parts as a result of technological developments. This volume seeks to examine some of these changes whilst at the same time interrogating the object that seems to be at the heart of all the fuss. Certainly there is a sense, at least in European and American contexts, that in concert with developments in genetics and biomedicine, both treatment of the body and attitudes...

  4. Chapter 1 AGED BODIES AND KINSHIP MATTERS: THE ETHICAL FIELD OF KIDNEY TRANSPLANT
    (pp. 17-46)
    Sharon R. Kaufman, Ann J. Russ and Janet K. Shim

    What happens to sociality in the face of medical transactions that enable the transfer of organs from one body/person to another? The activities that constitute clinical life extension comprise one site for the governing of life and kinship and the emergence of new forms of social participation in which biological knowledge and identification are foregrounded. Our ethnographic example at this site is kidney transplantation for older adults, and we ask: in what ways are bodies relational — and what is at stake in those relations — when longevityat older agesbecomes an object of intervention and apparent choice? We are concerned...

  5. Chapter 2 ANATOMIZING CONFLICT – ACCOMMODATING HUMAN REMAINS
    (pp. 47-76)
    Maja Petrović–Šteger

    Anthropological accounts of the body and person have recently begun to undergo a reorientation, with a shift of attention from the body understood as an integral unit to an idea of the body as sometimes made up by dead or dismembered body parts. While this study joins the debate on body parts (see Lock 2002; Scheper-Hughes and Wacquant 2003; also Kaufman et al., in this volume), it does not, however, address the phenomenon of the booming market in human organs destined for transplantation, whether to extend lives or modify bodies. Instead, the bodies and body parts emerging at the centre...

  6. Chapter 3 ON THE TREATMENT OF DEAD ENEMIES: INDIGENOUS HUMAN REMAINS IN BRITAIN IN THE EARLY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
    (pp. 77-99)
    Laura Peers

    As Curator for the Americas Collections in the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford (UK), one of the tasks I have undertaken has been to update the most popular case in the museum, which contains the shrunken heads (tsantsas ) from Shuar and Achuar peoples of South America, as well as scalps from Native American groups and Naga head-hunting trophies. The case is labelled ‘Treatment of Dead Enemies’ and provides examples of the ways in which dead bodies can be deliberately mutilated, dismembered, displayed, used to humiliate enemies, or to appropriate their powers. My work on the case has included inserting...

  7. Chapter 4 TOWARDS A CRITICAL ÖTZIOGRAPHY: INVENTING PREHISTORIC BODIES
    (pp. 100-128)
    John Robb

    This paper began its life as an attempt to answer a naïve question, ‘Why does the Ice Man have to have a name?’ I quickly became aware, however, that this apparently simple question takes us very quickly into deep waters: it appears simple only because, as natives of our own culture, we take all the complicated issues underlying it for granted. As Helen Lambert and Maryon McDonald point out (Introduction, this volume), the body is always recognized and understood within social relations. A human body is never a neutral, purely material object. Given this, finding an unknown body, without any...

  8. Chapter 5 BODIES IN PERSPECTIVE: A CRITIQUE OF THE EMBODIMENT PARADIGM FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF AMAZONIAN ETHNOGRAPHY
    (pp. 129-147)
    Aparecida Vilaça

    The primary aim of this chapter is to generate a dialogue between Amazonian or Amerindian ethnography and the literature produced on the theme of the body, especially that centred on embodiment – a notion that forms the basis for most current work on the body. More specifically, I wish to address one of the questions raised by the workshop that preceded this volume: Is ‘embodiment’ still useful analytically and crossculturally?¹

    Americanist² authors have drawn our attention since the 1970s to the centrality of the body in defining – and differentiating – persons and social groups, as well as the intense use of the...

  9. Chapter 6 USING BODIES TO COMMUNICATE
    (pp. 148-170)
    Marilyn Strathern

    It is possible to argue endlessly about what one might wish particular concepts to convey; however, when they are already overdetermined by diverse usage, strategies other than persuasion by argument might help. This is true of ‘the body’ and ‘bodies’. Anthropologists could well turn to the circumstances under which these concepts emerge as entitities in people’s dealings with one another. Or they could have recourse to what anthropologists have always done and, so to speak, creep up on them unawares. This way one could also, and so to speak again, let them emerge after analysis rather than have them prepared...

  10. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 171-174)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 175-188)