Real Bodies: An Introduction

  • Mary Evans


The title of this collection of essays is chosen to suggest some of the current uncertainties surrounding our understanding of the body at the beginning of the twenty-first century. For students and others with interests in this literature we hope that we have produced a series of essays that both reviews a particular aspect of the literature about the body and raises some of the problematic issues in that literature. Central to this collection is the discussion of the increasingly complex question of the status of the ‘real’ body: we all inhabit a specific, gendered, human body but we have also become aware that we are now able to renegotiate and change certain aspects of our lives as bodies. Feminism, for example in the work of Judith Butler and Susan Bordo, has challenged understandings of the body as biologically given and fixed, and argued that the human body is both culturally and historically specific (Bordo, 1993; Butler, 1990, 1993). Hence our title Real Bodies is suggestive of the ways in which the body or bodies, which we might once have regarded as fixed, is now less certainly defined. The authors in this collection of essays question the assumption of certainties about the body — the most central being the assumption that the body is ‘natural’ and trans-historical. With an increasing awareness of the negotiable and changeable possibilities of the body comes an increased recognition that it is impossible to speak about the ‘nature’ of the body or take for granted the body as a fixed category.


Anorexia Nervosa Black Woman Eating Disorder Female Body Real Body 
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Further reading

  1. Lykke, Nina and Braidotti, Rosi (eds), Between Monsters, Goddesses and Cyborgs: Feminist Confrontations with Science, Medicine and Cyberspace (London: Zed Books, 1996).Google Scholar
  2. Essays which suggest ways in which ideas about nature (and the body) inform social and feminist theory: an important statement about the way in which we think not just about our bodies, but through them.Google Scholar
  3. Haraway, Donna, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books, 1991).Google Scholar
  4. A collection of ten essays which develop the author’s argument that nature is constructed, not discovered.Google Scholar
  5. Ortner, Sherry, ‘Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?’, in (eds) M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere, Women, Culture and Society (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  6. The now classic statement about the association of men with culture and women with nature: an idea which underpins much subsequent work.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mary Evans 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Evans

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