The body/Embodiment group

Feminist theory of the body and embodiment is a prospering field of rich and diverse research. We might even say that the body has always figured in one way or another into the field of feminist theory and that contemporary understandings of the body have been directly or indirectly shaped by this field. From discussions of motherhood, pregnancy and abortion, of pleasure and sex, of eating disorders, as well as the gendered male body, and the incorporation of disciplinary regimes to theoretical discussions of embodiment and individuation of bodies, feminist thinkers have played a key role in forming different ideas and understandings of the body in numerous areas. 

In the feminist critique of the mind-body split and its dualistic counterparts: male/female, culture/nature, public/private, human/animal, there is also an ambition to counterbalance and transgress the dualistic thinking present in both scientific explanations and disciplinary boundaries. The body has become a veritable hot spot, marking itself as a boundary concept that forcefully disrupts given disciplinary identities and fields of investigation. The body is also a locus where nature and culture meet and it refuses to accommodate any easy distinction between these two terms. Instead the very presence of the body demands a radical rethinking of the meaning of both nature and culture, but also a reconceptualization of animal-human relationships.

Bodies make themselves present at the very core of a range of different embodied phenomena, such as emotions, desires, identity, and agency. Embodiment in its most simple understandings means the lived experience of human beings, an experience which always bridges “the natural” and “the cultural”. Embodied beings are never determined by its material, or its social and cultural embodied conditions, but at the same time never fully unbound or completely elastic. The historical and spatial differences, changes and stabilities in how bodies and embodiment are perceived and understood, provide insight into both the potentials and constraints of future body theory.

The approach of looking at the intertwinement of material, cultural and social dimensions of embodiment and embodied practices, also includes studying how normative understandings of embodiment and embodied practices become central in the organisations of work, institutions, production of knowledge etc. How embodiments and embodied practices are perceived, negotiated, reinforced and/or challenged in particular historical, geographical and institutional settings is one theme. Another theme is to develop and formulate theoretical understandings of lived embodiment.

Mission Statement

The Body/Embodiment group gathers researchers from across a broad range of different disciplines and theoretical perspectives with the common aim of approaching the body both as a site for transgressive encounters and as actively participating and shaping such encounters. Members of the group have disciplinary background in such diverse fields as Sociology, Evolutionary Biology, Cultural geography, Ethnography, International Maternal and Child Health, History of Ideas, History of Science and Technology, Philosophy, History of Medicine, and Literature. Our mutual interest in body and embodiment serves as a concrete node for interdisciplinary communication and exchange of ideas. The group engages in active collaboration across disciplinary boundaries letting disciplinary and other differences become strengths that provide unexpected lines of inquiry, giving rise to productive tensions and new questions. The overall aim in the group is to engage in transgressive understandings of body and embodiments. In doing so, we resist rigid dichotomies and categories and search for a radical theorizing of the materiality of bodies and their singularities, which question the very possibility of retaining stability in generalizing notions and frameworks of thinking.