In The Flesh / Edition 1

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TThe 1990s saw the dramatic rise of spectacular forms of body modification, which included the tattoo renaissance and the rise in body piercing, the emergence of neo-tribal practices like scarification and flesh hanging, and the invention of new, high-tech forms of body art like subdermal implants. This book, based on years of interviews with body modifiers throughout the United States, is both sympathetic and critical and provides the most comprehensive look at this phenomenon. From punk rock to "modern primitives," from queer sadomasochism to cyberpunks, sociologist Victoria Pitts provides insight into the full range of body modification subcultures. Whether by turbaning themselves into female punks, neo-tribal "primitives" or science fiction cyborgs, body modifiers are engaged in the project of "reclaiming" their bodies from the machine of modern life. Pitts explores the connections between body modification and contemporary struggles over sex and gender, and widespread attitudes about identity, consumption, and the body.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...this work provides insight into a relatively understudied segment of the population."—Library Jourbanal

". . . a fascinating and sensitive look at body modification subcultures and the political debates surrounding them."-Patricia Clough, author of Autoaffection: Unconscious Thought in the Age of Teletechnology

"The book refreshingly moves the arresting figure of the extreme body modifier out of the realm of the pathological and the masochistic and reveals how these practices and their disturbing embodiments challenge the tyrannical concept of normalcy that keeps the rest of us narrowly in check."—Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Emory University

Library Journal
Drawing on 20 in-depth interviews and other extensive research, Pitts (sociology, Queens Coll., CUNY) examines several segments of the body modification community and theorizes about the broader cultural and societal implications. The body modifications considered are extreme-scarification, branding, and implants (with some subjects performing their own surgery)-but Pitts argues against depicting these practices as self-mutilation, placing them instead on a spectrum of body modification that includes cosmetic surgery and BotoxR injections. The groups considered are women who see body modification as a way of reclaiming their bodies, usually after an experience of abuse; radical gays and lesbians fighting oppression and assimilation; "modern primitives" who adopt tribal practices from other cultures; and "cyberpunks" who seek to move beyond the limits of the natural body through technology. All these groups seek a meaningful experience beyond simply altering their appearance. Much of the material made this reviewer cringe, and the theoretical sections were very slow going, but this work provides insight into a relatively understudied segment of the population. Recommended for academic libraries.-Debra Moore, Cerritos Coll., Norwalk, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312293116
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 915,653
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Victoria Pitts teaches sociology at Queens College CUNY. She lives in New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Bodies of Power : New Body Art Technologies 1
Ch. 1 Subversive Bodies, Invented Selves: Theorizing Body Politics 23
Ch. 2 Reclaiming the Female Body: Women Body Modifiers and Feminist Debates 49
Ch. 3 Visibly Queer: Body Technologies and Sexual Politics 87
Ch. 4 Modern Primitivism and the Deployment of the Other 119
Ch. 5 Cyberpunk, Biomedicine, and the High-Tech Body 151
Conclusion: Reading the Post-Modern Techno-Body 185
Notes 199
Bibliography 225
Index 235
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