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Global Politics of the Body

12:30 Seminar

In this seminar, we will use a global comparative framework to explore how different societies have defined a "good society" through managing the body.  In particular, we will analyze how medicine has differentiated the "healthy normal body" from allegedly deviant and pathological bodies.  Although so intimate and private, our bodies link us to a variety of political, economic, and cultural projects.  From the eugenics movement to reproductive control, managing bodies has been a fundamental feature of both past and present societies around the world.  The body is also a site where we fiercely claim our sense of ownership and define our own identity through working out, dieting, piercing, and tattooing, to name just a few ways we modify and control our bodies.  We will also examine how citizens, patients, and consumers have sought to improve society through using our bodies as sites of activism and have both participated in and resisted the process of normalizing bodies.  Course topics will include organ transplantation, eugenics, sexuality, reproductive politics, public health, and epidemics.