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This art icle was downloaded by: [ Universit y of Sydney] On: 09 December 2013, At : 15: 57 Publisher: Rout ledge I nforma Lt d Regist ered in England and Wales Regist ered Number: 1072954 Regist ered office: Mort imer House, 37- 41 Mort imer St reet , London W1T 3JH, UK Cultural Studies Publ icat ion det ail s, incl uding inst ruct ions f or aut hors and subscript ion inf ormat ion: ht t p: / / www. t andf onl ine. com/ l oi/ rcus20 Bodies and anti-bodies: Feminism and the postmoder
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  This article was downloaded by: [University of Sydney]On: 09 December 2013, At: 15:57Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Cultural Studies Publication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information: Bodies and anti-bodies: Feminismand the postmodern Elspeth Probyn aa  Concordia University , MontrealPublished online: 23 Aug 2006. To cite this article:  Elspeth Probyn (1987) Bodies and anti-bodies: Feminism and thepostmodern, Cultural Studies, 1:3, 349-360, DOI: 10.1080/09502388700490251 To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information(the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor& Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warrantieswhatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purposeof the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are theopinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed byTaylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor andFrancis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands,costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever causedarising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out ofthe use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly  forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   S  y   d  n  e  y   ]  a   t   1   5  :   5   7   0   9   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3  BODIES AND ANTI BODIES. FEMINISM AND THE POSTMODERN The world is memory. I don't remember anymore because I refuse to remember anymore because all my memories hurt. (Acker, 1986) ecently I had the temerity to open a fairly theoretical paper with R a brief discussion of how my own historical body intertwined with my understanding and experience of ideology and subjec- tivity. While hardly a new approach, a postmodernist 'devotee' in the audience subsequently mentioned that this discussion had made him 'nervous'. Now it may indeed be merely a question of clumsy stripteasing - the unraveling of my particular discursive body - but what I should like to explore here is the 'nervous' juncture of feminism and postmodernism, as well as the possible confluence of feminism within the postmodern. This juxtaposition of feminism and postmodernism is not only nervous but also potentially problematic. Therefore I want to begin by briefly considering what may be at stake in a hasty merging of feminism and postmodernism. Neither of these fields is homogeneous; feminist theory potentially engages all disciplines, and postmodernism arises from the detritus, and the impossibility, of metanarratives. There are, however, key concepts which are proper to each plane. These sites and concerns do not define a dichotomy of 'essences' for eitfler field, but they are important constitutive and epistemological loci. Thus within feminism they are: the 'lived'; difference; bodies and subjectivities; sexuality; the material nature of experience; and various political articulations. And postmodernism heralds: the end of history; the implosion of meaning; the negation of totality and coherence; 'the body without organs'; the death of the referent; the end of the social; and the absence of politics. While these lists are not necessarily mutually self-excluding, they do point to significant areas of contestation. One might reasonably assume, for instance, that a theory that asserts 'the death of the social and the triumph of excremental culture' (Kroker and Cook, 1986: 7) might be incompatible with one that stresses, in various forms, the need to struggle over meanings within the social realm. I want here to rescue those struggles over meaning from the rather excessive rhetoric of postmodernism which makes it increasingly difficult to locate what is to be struggled over. The traditional political sites of 349    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   S  y   d  n  e  y   ]  a   t   1   5  :   5   7   0   9   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3  feminism - the body, experience and a popular politics - sound rather dated in the blur of postmodernist discourse. While this may in part truly reflect changing historical realities, we must begin to investigate the ways in which feminism has been taken up, denied and disarmed by postmodern- ism. This will point to the areas of agreement and contestation - as well as those that involve the need to rearticulate both fields. Postmodernist bodies One common use of the 'feminine' within the discourse of postmodernism has been as 'the other'. This particular articulation of 'woman-as-other' to postmodernist concerns frequently places women as the last frontier at the end of history. Woman, or more accurately the feminine, is the last spasm, nearly but not quite 'a panic site for the fin-de-millennium (Kroker and Cook, 1986). For all of Craig Owens's magnanimity in negotiating 'the treacherous course between postmodernism and feminism' (Owens, 1983: 59), feminism is merely displayed as a 'soft' political spot for postmodern- ism: modernist political ambitions for the masses now fall upon the 'feminine'. To begin to clarify this, let us consider Arthur Kroker's reworking of feminism: If it's true that we're finally leaving the obsolete world of the modern and entering postmodernism, then the earliest clue to the geography of this new terrain is what happens to images of women in the simulacrum of the media system. (Kroker and Kroker, 1985: 5) In this scenario women, or rather their impossible representations, function as an early-warning system of postmodernism, images without referents, bits of the feminine manufactured in the media simulacrum. As such, they are essentially unconnected, not only to each other, but also to any political position. Thus Kroker's assessment of 'the fate of feminism in the age of postmodernism' is that 'It's processed feminism' (Kroker and Cook, 1986: 5). But what is it that makes feminism 'processed'? Is it merely the positioning of women in the mediascape? After all, the recognition of the media's (and advertising's) exploitation is hardly new (and has been a central tenet of feminist critiques). Moreover, it is unclear in what way women are processed that distinguishes them from the universal condition of contemporary media existence: Everywhere today the aestheticization of the body and its dissolution into a semiurgy of floating body parts reveals that we are being processed through a media scene consisting of our own (exteriorized) body organs in the form of second-order simulacra. (Kroker, 1987: ii) It seems that the feminine body, fragmented and processed through the simulacrum of the media scene, has become the metaphor for all bodies. However, the body as metaphor for a culture where power itself is always only fictional' (1987: iii) cannot serve as a site of empowerment because it signifies nothing. Furthermore, if power is a fiction, the body can no longer 350 CULTURAL STUDIES    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   S  y   d  n  e  y   ]  a   t   1   5  :   5   7   0   9   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3


Jul 26, 2017
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