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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Radical Theory of Bodies: Synthesizing the Manipulation of Corporeal and Affective Bodies in Feminist Theory


Drawing chiefly upon Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity, this article argues that feminist theory does not operate in isolation from the body, but rather that the body is a medium through which feminist theory is performed. It examines how various feminist theorists conceive of the body, both corporeally and affectively, and how the body is mediated by a variety of culturally specific forces. Through a carefully crafted Butlerian lens, the article examines the body of the third world prostitute, the body of the fetus, the invasion of bodies by modern capitalism, the reimagining of the body in radical feminist utopia, and other constructions of the body. By placing the work of multiple feminist theorists in conversation with one another, the article offers theoretical insight by synthesizing seemingly disparate feminist theories.

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