Body & Society

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Body & Society has, from its inception in 1995 as a companion journal to Theory, Culture & Society, pioneered and shaped the field of body-studies. It has been committed to theoretical openness characterized by the publication of a wide range of critical approaches to the body, alongside the encouragement and development of innovative work that contains a trans-disciplinary focus.

The disciplines reflected in the journal have included anthropology, art history, communications, cultural history, cultural studies, environmental studies, feminism, film studies, health studies, leisure studies, medical history, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, science studies, sociology and sport studies.

The journal has also sought to examine a wide range of issues which have arisen from the writings of theorists such as: Baudrillard, Bergson, Bourdieu, Butler, Cixous, Deleuze, Douglas, Elias, Ettinger, Foucault, Haraway, Kristeva, Latour, Mauss, Merleau-Ponty, Simondon.

In recent years work on the body has exploded and studies of the body and embodiment have become increasingly central to discussions of technologies, film, media practices, communication, performance, art, regeneration, architecture, labour, dance, affect and life to name just some of the subjects. These are some of the emergent objects, practices and themes that have been enriched by a turn to the body and embodiment, and which are reflected in the emergence of a huge and growing body-studies literature.

It thus seems timely to re-launch Body & Society as the key journal for publishing work related to body-matters, and also to re-position the journal as leading and shaping the trans-disciplinary field of body-studies. In our role we have identified a number of emergent themes that are shaping the field, and these include a renewed interest in relation to life and affect across the social sciences and humanities. The paradigms of both life and affect break down the distinction between humans and other life forms, as we find in various forms of vitalism (Bergson, Deleuze, Massumi) and is echoed in debates across the biological and ‘environmental’ sciences (Varela, Oyama, Lewontin, Margulis, Rose). This is a new post-humanism that examines our communality with other forms of creaturely life and companion species (Haraway), and the need for a non-anthropocentric ethics (Derrida). The focus upon life recognizes the governance and regulation of bodies (biopolitics), as well as investments across diverse practices (media, consumer, biotechnological) in both the materiality and immateriality of bodies as biocapital and biomedia (code, information). The body that organizes such diverse practices and areas of experience is a body that is open, relational, human and non-human, material, indeterminate, immaterial, multiple, sentient and processual. This suggests a shift to focus upon how we think the relational dimensions of corporeality (what bodies can do, for example), without sidelining the role of disciplining, normalizing and regulative techniques (modification). There is a need to rethink the questions we might ask about bodies, and related concepts such as subjectivity, agency, power, technology, the human, the social and matter.

Body & Society welcomes suggestions for special issues, and we have identified areas such as movement, the senses, creaturely life, eating, medicine, biomediation, as key areas for development. Past special issues and special sections include: Cyberbodies/Cyberspace/Cyberculture; Body Modification; Bodies of Nature; Commodifying Bodies; Militarized Bodies; Bodies on Trial: Medicine and Biology; Disability and Humour; Bodily Performance and Dance; Islam, Health and the Body; Surgery; Blood donation, Bioeconomy and Culture; Bodies, Affect, Life; Religion and Bodies; and the Skin Ego.