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.
KeywordsAnorexia Nervosa Black Woman Eating Disorder Female Body Real Body
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