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Bodies in Crisis

Bodies in Crisis: Culture, Violence, and Women's Resistance in Neoliberal Argentina

Barbara Sutton
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 270
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  • Book Info
    Bodies in Crisis
    Book Description:

    Born and raised in Argentina and still maintaining significant ties to the area, Barbara Sutton examines the complex, and often hidden, bodily worlds of diverse women in that country during a period of profound social upheaval. Based primarily on women's experiential narratives and set against the backdrop of a severe economic crisis and intensified social movement activism post-2001,Bodies in Crisisilluminates how multiple forms of injustice converge in and are contested through women's bodies. Sutton reveals the bodily scars of neoliberal globalization; women's negotiation of cultural norms of femininity and beauty; experiences with clandestine, illegal, and unsafe abortions; exposure to and resistance against interpersonal and structural violence; and the role of bodies as tools and vehicles of political action.Through the lens of women's body consciousness in a Global South country, and drawing on multifaceted stories and a politically embedded approach,Bodies in Crisissuggests that social policy, economic systems, cultural ideologies, and political resistance are ultimately fleshly matters.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5541-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Bodies in Crisis: AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-34)

    In December 2001, the world’s attention turned to Argentina. The Argentine economy collapsed, food riots spread across the country, and the president declared a state of emergency that would limit freedom of movement and assembly. Masses of people openly defied the presidential decision, flooding the streets in protest. This citizen uprising was the culmination of years of economic restructuring in line with neoliberal globalization. Far from the promised prosperity, this economic model worsened the standard of living of most of the population and left millions of people impoverished. These events opened a period of intense social mobilization and community organizing...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Bodily Scars of Neoliberal Globalization
    (pp. 35-63)

    Much has been written about the globalization of capitalist economies and the neoliberal ideologies that promote this expansion, but few of these analyses have looked explicitly at the bodily dimensions of the economy.¹ Yet as some of the news headlines above suggest, human bodies and the economy are intimately connected. Human bodies fuel economic globalization—literally giving it muscle in factories and other global production sites—and are targets of its consumer products. Whether our bodies are overworked, malnourished, scarred by untreated diseases, altered by cosmetic surgery, or dressed in expensive clothing is often contingent on economic conditions. In a...

    (pp. 64-95)

    Feminists have produced substantial literature showing that women’s bodily appearance and demeanor are central to the social construction of femininity.¹ The way women move and dress, the amount of space they claim, and the size and shape of their bodies are essential to performances of gender, race, class, nationality, and sexuality. These practices produce and reproduce particular forms of feminine embodiment, distinguishing women from men, but also creating distinctions among groups of women (e.g., Bettie 2003; Hanser 2005; Henley and Freeman 1995; Salzinger 2003). Sociologists note that women’s and men’s bodily comportment and presentation are not merely reflective of individual...

  7. CHAPTER 4 More Than Reproductive Uteruses: MATERNAL BODIES AND ABORTION
    (pp. 96-128)

    As in other parts of Latin America, motherhood is an expected, celebrated, idealized, and naturalized role for women in Argentina (Tarducci 2008a). In addition to the aesthetic aspects of feminine appearance and demeanor, motherhood—which also requires a particular kind of bodily performance—is another hegemonic mode of feminine embodiment. Even though not all women’s maternities are equally valued, women are generally supposed to embody motherhood not only through pregnancy but also through an abnegated body oriented to the needs of others. Here I outline some of the expectations concerning the maternal body and analyze the obstacles that women face...

    (pp. 129-160)

    Social aggression directed at women’s bodies is expressed not only through social structures and institutions but also through micro interactions. In the previous chapters, I examined women’s bodily experiences in relation to the Argentine political economy, cultural norms of femininity and beauty, and the regulation of women’s procreation capacities. An examination of each of these areas reveals significant levels ofstructural violence(Farmer 2003) that play out on women’s bodies—violence that causes physical harm and emotional strain, that leaves scars on the body, and that even kills. We see this violence, for example, on the bodies of women who...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Bodies in Protest: PONER EL CUERPO
    (pp. 161-190)

    Throughout this book, I have explored various strategies that women use to cope with, negotiate, and resist unjust conditions. The responses of different women to these social forces were sometimes individual, sometimes collective and more overtly political, and sometimes both. In this chapter, I examine the significance of women’s bodies in social change efforts as well as the role of political activism in the constitution of women’s embodied subjectivity. I consider the following questions: How does the body, and particularly the female body, become a vehicle and agent of resistance? How does women’s political resistance engage and contest hegemonic modes...

    (pp. 191-208)

    Based primarily on women’s experiential narratives, this book suggests that social policy, economic systems, cultural ideologies, and political resistance are also fleshly matters, and that in order to create more equitable, just, and humane societies, we need to take into account the bodily worlds of marginalized populations. Leading transnational feminist theorist Chandra Mohanty (2003b, 231) argues that an “experiential and analytic anchor in the lives of marginalized communities of women provides the most inclusive paradigm for thinking about social justice” in the age of globalization. In this work, I situated the excluded bodies of women in a Global South country,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-220)
  12. References
    (pp. 221-246)
  13. Index
    (pp. 247-256)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-257)