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Themes of embodiment and agency have long been central to feminist philosophical thought and have increasingly led feminists to extend their theorizing to encompass a range of identities shaped by processes of gender, race, class, disability, and sexuality. The intersection of these themes, however, has often been limited to analyzing how specific modes of socialized embodiment can be impediments to agency or autonomy.
Embodiment and Agency is distinctive in bringing a remarkable range of theoretical perspectives and resources to the project in ways that stress possibilities as well as constraints. Contributors utilize, for example, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, care ethics, analytic philosophy, Hegelian critique, and postcolonial theory to examine embodiment and agency in contexts ranging from a child’s struggle to find her own identity to global politics. The volume is integrated through its theme, through an introductory essay situating the contributions in relation to each other and to current feminist theory on agency, and through the structuring of the contents into two distinct sections.
Part I, “Becoming Embodied Subjects,” explores how we become individually and collectively identified subjects through the possibilities for agency that arise from specific modes of embodiment. Part II, “Embodied Relations: Political Contexts,” continues the theme of embodied agency in contemporary sociopolitical contexts. It challenges the reader to reconceptualize the links between embodiment and moral agency in ways adequate to political realities, personal relationships, and collective responsibilities.
Introduction: Minding Bodies
Part I: Becoming Embodied Subjects
1. Emotional Metamorphoses: The Role of Others in Becoming a Subject
2. Racial Grief and Melancholic Agency
3. A Knowing That Resided in My Bones: Sensuous Embodiment and Trans Social Movement
4. The Phrenological Impulse and the Morphology of Character
5. Personal Identity, Narrative Integration, and Embodiment
6. Bodily Limits to Autonomy: Emotion, Attitude, and Self-Defense
Part II: Embodied Relations, Political Contexts
7. Relational Existence and Termination of Lives: When Embodiment Precludes Agency
8. A Body No Longer of One’s Own
9. Premature (M)Othering: Levinasian Ethics and the Politics of Fetal Ultrasound Imaging
Jacqueline M. Davies
10. Inside the Frame of the Past: Memory, Diversity, and Solidarity
11. Collective Memory or Knowledge of the Past: “Covering Reality with Flowers”
Susan E. Babbitt
12. Agency and Empowerment: Embodied Realities in a Globalized World
List of Contributors