With the end of the year onslaught of new journal issues, interesting articles abound this month. Here are several that might be of interest:
The term bodyscape encourages thinking about representation of bodies at multiple scales—from different bodies as they move through space to the microlandscape of individual bodily differences. A hegemonic bodyscape’s representations tend to idealize and essentialize bodies’ differences to reinforce normative ideas about a society’s socioeconomic organization. But, a dominant bodyscape is never absolute. Bodyscapes that depart from or subvert hegemonic representations may simultaneously exist. In Western society, the biomedical bodyscape predominates in scientific understandings of bodily difference. Its representation of sex differences conveys heteronormative notions about gender and sexuality. Because the biomedical bodyscape frames studies of ancient bodies, investigators need recognize how their considerations of labor divisions, familial organization, and reproduction may situate modern (hetero)sexist representations deep within antiquity. To innovate analyses of socioeconomic relations, queer theory allows scholars to interrogate human nature. Doing so produces alternative bodyscapes that represent the diversity of past peoples’ social and sexual lives.
Histories of the role of public health in nation building have revealed the centrality of hygiene to eugenic mechanisms of racial exclusion in the turn-of-the-20th-century United States, yet little scholarship has examined its role in the present day. Through ethnography in a Mexican migrant farmworking community in California‘s Central Valley, we explore the role of oral hygiene campaigns in racializing Mexican immigrant parents and shaping the substance of their citizenship. Public health officials perceive migrant farmworkers’ children’s oral disease as a “stain of backwardness,” amplifying Mexican immigrants’ status as “aliens.” We suggest, however, that the recent concern with Mexican immigrant children’s oral health blends classic eugenic concerns in public health with neoliberal concerns regarding different immigrant groups’ capacity for self-governance.