Anatomising Embodiment and Organisation Theory by Karen Dale (auth.)

By Karen Dale (auth.)

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The first is that the body is perceived as an object of investigation. The body is objectified and commodified, ripe for classification; it becomes a generalised body, trampling rough-shod over the specificity of individual bodies. In the second, the body is regarded in terms of metaphors which construe it as an instrument, a machine at the disposal of consciousness, a vessel occupied by an animating, wilful subjectivity, which requires careful training and discipline. For example, in Locke and the liberal tradition of the Enlightenment generally, the body is conceived of as a possession, the property of the subject, who can therefore make decisions about how to dispose of it.

Such a position reinforces the status quo since it claims it is `natural' and therefore inevitable. Thus we can see that the presentation of the combination `science' of biology and society can be a political tool which seeks to justify certain power relations by appealing to a discourse of objectivity and neutrality based on a `natural' body. Changing bodies: the historical and social construction of the body The naturalistic view of the body and the Darwinian tradition are not the only perspectives of the body in the social sciences.

This is a quite different mode of organising knowledge from that which preceded it, which Foucault (1970) argues was based on resemblance, analogy and similitudes. Dissection is not an end in itself but, as Sawday suggests: `anatomisation takes place so that, in lieu of a formerly complete ``body'', a new ``body'' of knowledge and understanding can be created. As the physical body is fragmented, so the body of understanding is held to be shaped and formed' (1995, p. 2). In relation to the body, anatomy can be said to have produced a uniquely organised body: a body that is organised by science and rationality rather than by nature.

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