Book synopsis: What can the past tell us about the future(s) of the body? The origins of this collection of papers lie in the work of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities which has been involved in presenting a series of international workshops and conferences on the theme of the cultural life of the body. The rationale for these events was that, in concepts as diverse as the cyborg, the questioning of mind/body dualism, the contemporary image of the suicide bomber and the patenting of human genes, we can identify ways in which the future of the human body is at stake. This volume represents an attempt, not so much to speculate about what might happen, but to develop strategies for bodily empowerment so as to get back to the future of the body . The body, it is contended, is not to be thought of as an object or a sign but as an active participant in the shaping of cultural formations. And this is emphatically not an exercise in digging corpses out of the historical archive. The question is, rather, what can past lived and thought experiences of the body tell us about what the body can be(come)? The continuing vitality of debate around the body was proven by the range and depth of the papers presented at the workshop on which this volume is based, does the body have a future? Our overall theme required contributors to think through embodiment in the past. This they did with considerable interdisciplinary vigour, rigorousness and imagination. Prof. Donna Dickenson, Director, Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities
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