Introduction: surgery and embodiment - carving out subjects

This is an introduction to the Special Issue: ‘Surgery and Embodiment: Carving out Subjects’. The collection of articles in the special issue demonstrates how surgery, as a set of discourses and practices, has become central to the mediation between body and psyche in cultural understandings and individual experiences of embodied subjectivity. This is achieved by examining, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, a range of historical and contemporary examples of surgical practice. The contributors share common concerns about embodied subjectivity, gender and sexuality, and the complex relationships between medical practice, normativity and consumerist pressures that are brought to bear on practices of body modification. We are concerned with how surgical processes are variously employed by individuals, as well as imposed upon them, in the attainment and negotiation of an embodied sense of self. Attentive also to the ways in which surgery produces and reinscribes bodies as normative and non-normative, the contributors seek to challenge the power of surgery to define the body by exploring alternative epistemologies, as well as providing possibilities for negotiating clinical practices in the construction of self and subjectivity
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