In the twenty-first century, the body is experienced less as a fixed entity than it is as a protean product and a project of technological, medical and artistic invention. The essays in Bodies in the Making: Transgressions and Transformations address the proliferation of such transformative practices as tattooing, piercing, self-cutting, cosmetic and transsexual surgery, prosthetics, organ transplants and life extension technologies.

Establishing links among these varied practices, the contributors illuminate the dramatic and widespread changes that have taken place across generations in attitudes towards the relation of the body to the mind, to agency and to subjectivity.

Bodies in the Making also addresses a paradox that has shaped recent body modification debates. Although physical transformations are usually experienced as self-expressive and libratory, they are frequently understood to be socially determined, economically driven and culturally enmeshed. Contributors to the volume engage this contradiction directly, exploring ways in which diverse body practices are capable of subverting power while also at times re-inscribing it.


Virginia L. Blum (English, University of Kentucky)
Aleshia Brevard (Transsexual author and actress, Santa Cruz)
Joyce Brodsky (Art, UCSC)
Nancy N. Chen (Anthropology, UCSC)
Maria Frangos (Literature, UCSC)
Carla Freccero (Literature, UCSC)
Joanna Frueh (Art, University of Nevada, Reno)
Shelby Graham (Art, UCSC)
Donna Haraway (History of Consciousness, UCSC)
Sharon R. Kaufman (Anthropology, UCSF)
Steve Kurzman (Anthropologist, San Francisco)
John Marlovits (Anthropology, UCSC)
Helene Moglen (Literature, UCSC)
Megan Moodie (Anthropology, UCSC)
Sheila Namir (Psychologist, Santa Cruz)
Victoria Pitts (Sociology, CUNY)
Lorna A. Rhodes (Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle)
Kelley Richardson (Photographer, Santa Cruz)
Ann J. Russ (Anthropologist, San Francisco)
Gabriela Sandoval (Sociology, UCSC)
Janet K. Shim (Social and Behavioral Sciences, UC San Francisco)
Mary Weaver (History of Consciousness, UCSC)

You can order the book at The Literary Guillotine,
204 Locust Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, 831 457-1195,
or by downloading an order form from the
Institute for Advanced Feminist Research (IAFR).

196 + 16 pages      7" x 4.5"      US $12
ISBN: 0-9712546-3-x


From the keynote address by Victoria Pitts:

So the postmodern body in this sense is plastic or malleable for the purposes of inscription, consumption, identity and representation in postmodern culture, and one of the debates then has been whether or not this malleability affords freedom. This we might call the “agency-structure” debate about body modification. When I get my face pierced and tattooed, am I expressing rebellion and therefore agency? Or am I internalizing a structural power relationship that is beyond me? When I get cosmetic surgery, am I a victim of patriarchy, or am I making a rational, calculated choice that brings me social benefits? But rather than simply take sides in that debate here — and it is an important one — I want to position that debate as part of the broader problem I am outlining, which is to trace the production of interior meanings of embodiment.