Embodied Geographies


Thinking through the Body
(Pamela Richardson)

Theorising embodied geographies has become increasingly popular since the 1990s. The body has been considered as "as a surface to be mapped, a surface for inscription, as a boundary between the individual subject and that which is Other to it, as the container of individual identity, but also as a permeable boundary which leaks and bleeds and is penetrable" (McDowell and Sharpe 1997: 3).

Our bodies are at the core of our experience of the geographies we inhabit. We live our lives as embodied creatures; feeling, sensing, and thinking through the body. Our relationship to space, place and landscape is inescapably shaped by the kind of bodies we have. And yet our embodiment is often written out of geographical discourse, reflective of a key problem in Western thought: the ontological discontinuities perceived between the social and the natural, body and mind, the self and the world.

This series of readings draws from the work of feminist geographers and theorists who deal explicitly with the body. It begins by exploring the concept of embodiment and how it relates to geography. It then engages with some feminist arguments in political and social theory, exploring the difference that bodies can make to our place in the world.

Week I. The Body and Geography

Space, place, landscape…

Longhurst, R., 1997. (Dis)embodied geographies. Progress in Human Geography; 21: 486-501

Longhurst, R., 2005. Situating Bodies in A Companion to Feminist Geography. Blackwell Publishing, pp. 337 - 349.

Rose, G., 1993.Feminism and Geography: the limits of geographical knowledge. Polity Press pp. 62-85

Further readings:

Cataldi, Sue L., 1993. Emotion, Depth, and Flesh: A Study of Sensitive Space: Reflections on Merleau-Ponty's Philosophy of Embodiment. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Kirby, Vicki. 'Corporeographies', Inscriptions, vol. 5: 'Traveling Theories, Traveling Theorists' (1989).

Longhurst, Robin. Bodies: Exploring Fluid Boundaries. London: Routledge, 2000.

Nast, Heidi & Steve Pile, eds., 1998.Places Through the Body. Routledge.

Rodaway, P. Sensuous Geographies: Body, Sense, and Place. London: Routledge, 1994.

II. Embodiments- conceptualising the body

Butler, J. 1993. Bodies that matter: on the discursive limits of "sex". New York; London: Routledge. Pp. 1-23

Grosz, E., 1994. 'Introduction: Refiguring Bodies' in Volatile Bodies. Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Indiana University Press, Bloomington; and Allen and Unwin, Sydney. Pp1-24

Further reading:
Ansen, Nancy; Philo, Chris, 2007. The normality of doing things differently: bodies, spaces and disability geography'. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Volume 98, Number 4, September 2007, pp. 493-506(14).

Deleuze, G. 1992. 'What can a body do?' In Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza. New York: Zone Books. pp. 217-234.

Diprose, R., and R. Ferrell. 1991. Introduction: Cartographies: poststructuralism and the mapping of bodies and spaces. North Sydney, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Shilling, C. 2003. The body and social theory. 2nd ed. London: Sage.

Simonsen, K., 2005. 'Bodies, Sensations, Space and Time: The Contribution from Henri Lefebvre'. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, Volume 87, Number 1, April 2005 , pp. 1-14(14)

The body and nature

Bell, D., and G. Valentine. 1997. Consuming geographies: we are where we eat. London: Routledge. Chapter 2

Probyn, E. 2000. Carnal Appetites: Food/Sex/Identities. London and New York: Routledge pp.1-32

Roe, E. 2006. 'Things Becoming Food and the Embodied, Material Practices of an Organic Food Consumer'. Sociologia Ruralis 46 (2):104-121.

Further reading:

Gaard, G. C. 1993. Ecofeminism : women, animals, nature. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Lupton, D. 1996. Food, the body and the self. London: Sage.

Probyn, E. 2001. 'Eating Skin' in Ahmed, S. and Stacey, J. (eds.) Thinking through Skin. London and New York: Routledge.

Smith, M. and Davidson, J. 2006.‘It Makes My Skin Crawl...’: The Embodiment of Disgust in Phobias of ‘Nature’. Body & Society, 3; vol. 12: pp. 43 – 67

Valentine, Gill. 'A Corporeal Geography of Consumption'. Environment and Planning D: Society & Space 17:3. 1999: 329 - 351.

Weiss, G., and H. F. Haber. 1999. Perspectives on embodiment : the intersections of nature and culture. New York ; London: Routledge.

IV. The body and politics

Gatens, M. 1995. Power, Bodies, and Difference in Imaginary bodies : ethics, power and corporeality. London: Routledge. pp.60-76

Saldanha A, 2006. Reontologising race: the machinic geography of phenotype. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 24(1) 9 – 24

Further reading:

Haraway, D. 2004. 'Race: Universal donors in a vampire culture…' in The Haraway Reader, Routledge pp.251- 294

Baird, B. 2001. 'Abortion, questions, ethics, embodiment'. History Workshop Journal (52):197-216.

V. The body, ethics and sensibility

Diprose, R. 1994. 'Introduction', pp. vi-xi in The bodies of women: ethics, embodiment, and sexual difference. London: Routledge.

Paul Harrison, 2000. Making sense: embodiment and the sensibilities of the everyday Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 18 497 – 517

McCormack, D. P. 2003. 'An event of geographical ethics in spaces of affect'. Transactions Of The Institute Of British Geographers 28 (4):488-507.

Further reading:

Diprose, R. 2002. 'Chapter 2: Giving sexed corporeality before the law' in Corporeal Generosity. State University of New York Press, Albany.

Irigaray, L. 2004. An ethics of sexual difference. London: Continuum.

Shildrick, M. 1997. Leaky bodies and boundaries : feminism, postmodernism and (bio)ethics. London: Routledge.

Weiss, G. 1999. Body images : embodiment as intercorporeality. New York ; London: Routledge. Chapter 7

VI. The body and technology: GM?

Donna Haraway, 'A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,' in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991), pp.149-181.

'Performance as Guerrilla Ontology: The Case of Stelarc' by Chris Fleming in Body & Society 2002 Vol. 8(3): 95–109

Chapter 1 'Toward embodied virtuality' in Hayles How we became posthuman, p. 1-24

Chapter 3 'Plastic Brains, Hybrid minds' in Clark, A, Natural-Born Cyborgs, p. 59-88

'Machinic vision' Johnston, John 1999 Critical Inquiry 26, pp 27-48

'From born to made: technology, biology and space' Thrift, Nigel, 2005b. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, NS30, 463-476

VII. Representation and the body

Marks, Laura U. 'Introduction' in The skin of the film: intercultural cinema, embodiment, and the senses. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Weiss, G. 1999. Body images : embodiment as intercorporeality. New York ; London: Routledge. Chapter 1 and 6.

Rose, G. 2003. 'Just how, exactly, is geography visual?' Antipode, vol. 35, pp. 212-21.

VIII. Materiality: posthumanism and the body

Bakker, K. and Bridge, G., 2006 Material Worlds? Resource geographies and the ‘matter of nature.’ Progress in Human Geography, 2; vol. 30: pp. 5 - 27.

Bennett, J. ,2004.'The force of things - Steps toward an ecology of matter'. Political Theory 32 (3): 347-372.

Braidotti, R. 2006. Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics. Cambridge: Polity. Pp.144-151

Kearnes, M. B. 2003. 'Geographies that matter - the rhetorical deployment of physicality?' Social & Cultural Geography 4 (2):139-152.

Whatmore, S., 2006. 'Materialist Returns: practicing cultural geography in and for a more-than-human world'. Cultural Geographies 13: 600-609.

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