Corpus modificatus : transmutational belonging and posthuman becoming

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2008
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- My grandfather was in a fix. He wasn’t black, like his father, but he wasn’t quite white either, like his mother. He was marrying a woman who also wasn’t-black-but-wasn’t­quite-white. The problem was that his mother was worried that her future daughter-in-law’s father was a bit too ‘dark, Oriental looking’, whilst her mother was worried because his father was half-black ‘negro’. It really was a case of pot calling kettle black. And she was already three months pregnant, so everyone was worried about whether ‘the throwback thing’ would mean that they would have a black, ‘negro’ baby. My grandparents had managed to modify their ‘brown’ bodies so they could ‘pass’ as ‘white’, but could they also somehow also modify their potentially ‘non-white’ offspring? What might the materially affective mechanisms be, that have the power to ‘fix’ bodies, so as that a brown body can become white? Franken-rat, in a different time and place, was a rat in a laboratory who had a human ear growing on its back. Its body was hideous, a monstrous blend of ratty-human flesh. Franken-rat lived and died in a laboratory, in the service of science and humanity. But how does its body, and the discourses surrounding it, materialise certain understandings about our bodies and their relationships to ‘others’ and to the world? How might our bodies understand that relationship? If my understanding of my relationship to ‘others’ is based upon a liberal humanist construct that separates ‘self’ from ‘other’ and such fleshy intertwinings as monstrous, then can I ‘become posthuman’ and affectively create that relationship as a generous and welcoming of ‘otherness’? Can posthumanism ‘overcome’ the abjection and horror of liberal humanist ideas of monstrosity? This thesis is a fictocritical exploration of bodies and their dynamic discursive and material relations with the world. If the world is a site continually in flux, how might bodies modify or be modified in order to continually belong to it? And how might we sift through the facts, the stories and the affects of family narratives, institutional spaces, historical documents, philosophical ideas, and cultural texts, discourses and practices, in order to find spaces of integrity in connection and becoming, and affective, corporeal knowledges to take into the future?
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