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Missing Bodies: The Politics of Visibility

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Overview

We know more about the physical body—how it begins, how it responds to illness, even how it decomposes—than ever before. Yet not all bodies are created equal, some bodies clearly count more than others, and some bodies are not recognized at all. In Missing Bodies, Monica J. Casper and Lisa Jean Moore explore the surveillance, manipulations, erasures, and visibility of the body in the twenty-first century. The authors examine bodies, both actual and symbolic, in a variety of arenas: pornography, fashion, sports, medicine, photography, cinema, sex work, labor, migration, medical tourism, and war. This new politics of visibility can lead to the overexposure of some bodies—Lance Armstrong, Jessica Lynch—and to the near invisibility of others—dead Iraqi civilians, illegal immigrants, the victims of HIV/AIDS and "natural" disasters.

Missing Bodies presents a call for a new, engaged way of seeing and recovering bodies in a world that routinely, often strategically, obscures or erases them. It poses difficult, even startling questions: Why did it take so long for the United States media to begin telling stories about the "falling bodies" of 9/11? Why has the United States government refused to allow photographs or filming of flag-draped coffins carrying the bodies of soldiers who are dying in Iraq? Why are the bodies of girls and women so relentlessly sexualized? By examining the cultural politics at work in such disappearances and inclusions of the physical body the authors show how the social, medical and economic consequences of visibility can reward or undermine privilege in society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As a commentary on the consequences of neoliberalism, a critique of contemporary Western culture, and a recovery effort o fthe unseen, Missing Bodies is a provocative and thought provoking work that situates our understandings of the bodies that are seen and obscured in new light."-Erin L. Pullen,Sociology of Health and Illness

"This book is written in a vivid style, endowed with a straightforward and pleasant way of expressing the authors' engaged analysis."-Claire Beaudevin,Social Anthropology

“Shows the structural and symbolic processes underlying bodily erasure and exposure; a major accomplishment.”
-—Nelly Oudshoorn,author of The Male Pill

Missing Bodies focuses our attention on what is not there, and thus brilliantly illuminates just what is! This is a creative, thoughtful, exciting book, a fine contribution to the growing literature on the sociology of the body.”

-Barbara Katz Rothman,author of Recreating Motherhood

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814716786
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Monica J. Casper is Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Women’s Studies, and Director of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies, at Arizona State University’s New College. She is author of The Making of the Unborn Patient.

Lisa Jean Moore is Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies and Coordinator of Gender Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. She is author of Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man’s Most Precious Fluid and co-author of Missing Bodies: The Politics of Visibility and Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee. She is also co-editor of the collection The Body Reader and, with Monica Casper, oversees the series Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the Twenty-First Century for NYU Press.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction: The Bodies We See, and Some That Are Not Here 1

Part I Innocents

2 Seen but Not Heard: Consequences of Innocence Lost 25

3 Calculated Losses: Taking the Measure of Infant Mortality 57

Part II Exposed

4 Biodisaster: "The Greatest Weapon of Mass Destruction on Earth" 83

5 Fluid Matters: Human Biomonitoring as Gendered Surveillance 109

Part III Heroes

6 "They Used Me": Manufacturing Heroes in Wartime 137

7 It Takes Balls: Lance Armstrong and the Triumph of American Masculinity 157

8 Conclusion: Excavations 177

Notes 189

References 199

Index 215

About the Authors 223

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