The body is a physical entity and a symbolic artifact. It is both created in the world of nature and also physically reconstructed by a culture. The body is both an internal, subjective environment and simultaneously an object for others to observe and evaluate. Bodily practices, woven within a dense web of social relationships, are then both individual and collective- the individual body expresses cultural values, rules, and regulations in the daily routine of living. The American Body in Context: An Anthology is an interdisciplinary investigation of these body relationships, examining the American historical and contemporary constructions of the body. Through readings and exercises, this new book allows readers to explore interrelationships between the individualized and the constructed nature of embodied experiences. This comprehensive text draws together a wide variety of analyses and demonstrates the interdependence between the individual and the structural (re)productions of embodied experiences in the U.S. This is an excellent text for courses in American studies, American society, cultural and social anthropology, and gender studies.
Jessica Johnston is a lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand where she teaches courses on contemporary American culture, deviance in America, power and knowledge in corporate America, and issues of identity and qualitative methodologies.