In the Journals

"Bodily Integrity": a special issue of Body & Society

The latest Body & Society is a special issue on “Bodily Integrity” with a number of articles that may interest our readers.  Here are the titles and abstracts:

Lisa Blackman, Bodily Integrity

Margrit Shildrick, Some Reflections on the Socio-cultural and Bioscientific Limits of Bodily Integrity

Vivian Sobchack, Living a ‘Phantom Limb’: On the Phenomenology of Bodily Integrity

This article is a phenomenological exploration and description of certain selected aspects of living the specificities and conundrums posed by what is usually, if problematically, called a ‘phantom limb’. Using my own body as an ‘intimate laboratory’, I attend to the dynamics and mutability of the supposed ‘phantom’, both during the post-operative period of the above-the-knee amputation of my left leg as well as after I began to use and incorporate my prosthetic leg. Throughout, I explore the reversible aspects of my two legs as ‘phantom’ and ‘real’, present and absent, and visible and invisible — paying attention, as well, to the lived and linguistic sense we make of our bodies in ‘parts’ and our bodies as ‘whole’.

Jenny Slatman and Guy Widdershoven, Hand Transplants and Bodily Integrity

In this article, we present an analysis of bodily integrity in hand transplants from a phenomenological narrative perspective, while drawing on two contrasting case stories. We consider bodily integrity as the subjective bodily experience of wholeness which, instead of referring to actual bodily intactness, involves a positive identification with one’s physical body. Bodily mutilations, such as the loss of a hand, may severely affect one’s bodily integrity. A possible restoration of one’s experience of wholeness requires a process of re-identification. Medical interventions, such as a hand transplant, may improve the possibility of a successful re-identification. However, since the experience of wholeness does not refer simply to physical intactness or impairment, the choice for medical intervention should not be based merely upon the degree of physical mutilation. It should also be based upon the degree to which a person fails in re-identifying with his or her mutilated body. We argue that a normalizing operation is only ethically justifiable if the intervention enables the person to be the body he or she has.

Boaz Neumann, Being Prosthetic in the First World War and Weimar Germany

In this article I discuss the prosthetic phenomenon during the First World War and Weimar Germany. As opposed to contemporary trends, with their inflationary use of the ‘prosthesis’, sometimes even hypothesizing ‘prostheticization’ as a paradigm, I seek to return the debate about the prosthesis to its historical concreteness. I describe the phenomenology of the prosthesis in three senses: first, in the statistical sense, in the form of a dramatic growth in the number of prostheses; second, in the visual sense, in the form of a dramatic growth in the visibility of the prosthesis. Basing myself on the Heideggerian perception of the ‘phenomenon’, I seek to reveal an additional, third, aspect of the phenomenology of the prosthesis. It is my contention, against the background of the major catastrophe of the First World War and the frequent crises that afflicted Weimar Germany, but also in the light of additional contexts — technological, economic, cultural — that the prosthesis was increasingly perceived as a phenomenon, i.e. as something which appeared in a wide range of ways — as prosthesis, as tool (hammer, writing instrument), as an organic limb (hand, leg), and even as a paradigm (man as ‘prosthetic God’, man as ‘Dasein’).

Rhonda Shaw, Organ Donation in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Cultural Phenomenology and Moral Humility

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, organ donation and transplantation rates for M?ori and non-M?ori differ. This article outlines why this is so, and why some groups may be reticent about or object to organ donation and transplantation. In order to do this, I draw on the conceptual and methodological lens of phenomenology and apply what Van Manen calls the existential themes of lived body (corporeality), lived space (spatiality), lived time (temporality) and lived other (relationality and communality) to a discussion of the cultural values and spiritual beliefs of M?ori around tissue donation. Specifically, the aim of the article is to encourage non-M?ori, who will already be aware that diverse cultural traditions transmit different beliefs about organ donation and transplantation, to recognize the existence of a deeper understanding of what this difference may mean for people on a felt level and how it might impact on lived experience.

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