Re-discovering the material body through an exploration of theories of embodiment

Churchill Livingstone
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Midwifery, 2010, 26 (4), pp. 457 - 462
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The body is of central concern to midwifery yet, as a profession, we have largely failed to grapple with the corpus of feminist and other literature that deals with the body. This article provides an overview of the ways in which the body has been theorised, from the essential and biological through to postmodern theories of the body. We draw attention to the limitations of some of these approaches, suggesting that Elizabeth Groszs schema of the Mo¨ bius strip (representing the inter-relationships between the inside and outside, culture and nature) provides a useful framework for thinking about the body; one that avoids a biological materialism that disregards the effect of culture, and a cultural determinism that neglects the corporeal body. Recognising the multiplicity and fluidity of womens experiences of pregnancy, their body and childbearing emancipates us from the limitations imposed by the masculinist Western philosophical traditions that we have inherited.
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