Bodies of Resistance is a collection of ten essays on embodiment and its various forms of resistance to disciplinary regimes, plus a lengthy introduction by the editor, Laura Doyle. The essays are paired and divided into five sections, each with its own brief introduction, which tends to make the book seem more like a patchwork than a unified whole; nevertheless, Doyle insists on its cohesion. Most of the ten authors, she says, are engaged in what she calls “postmodern phenomenology” (xiii). (The final essay, “The Dimensions of History: Colonial Mapping, Architecture, and the Perils of ‘Constructive Phenomenology’” by Daniel Bertrand Monk, is a critique of this approach, but, as such, is still very much engaged with it.) The collection’s purpose, according to Doyle, is to address this question: “If as bodied social creatures we walk always within the contours of a culture, shaped by its codes and disciplines, how do we realize in the flesh any gesture of resistance? If prohibitions insinuate themselves into our most intimate and palpable forms of being, the sensations of our hands, the sights of our eyes, out of what materials, by what moves, might we (do we) generate another social ontology and write an alternative code?” (xi). The essays typically address this question by way of a phenomenological analysis of embodiment, drawing largely on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and, to a lesser extent, Jacques Lacan.
Copyright © 2002, University of Notre Dame Department of Philosophy. This article first appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (2002).
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McWhorter, Ladelle. Review of Bodies of Resistance: New Phenomenologies of Politics, Agency, and Culture by Laura Doyle. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, April 2002.