introduction
emily s. rosenberg and shanon fitzpatrick
Bodies attract and disgust; they are the most frequent objects of
personal thoughts, desires, and actions. Moreover the anthropomor-
phic analogy contained in the term body politic, an analogy that has run
throughout Western political and social traditions, most famously to
Plato, illustrates the larger political and social meanings of bodies. Body
and Nation: The Global Realm of U.S. Body Politics in the Twentieth Century
brings together scholarship on the body with historical research on U.S.
international and transnational relationships. It interrogates the con-
nections among the body, the nation, and the world in twentieth-century
U.S. history.
For the past thirty years theoretical investigations centering on the
body, a topic once considered relevant largely to the biological sciences,
have influenced most disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.1
Foucault’s exploration of biopolitics and biopower initially propelled
interdisciplinary investigations of the disciplining and regulation of
social groups and individuals.2 Subsequent theoretical and historical
studies have deepened our understanding of how the meanings and
markings of bodies have come to be culturally constituted. The work of
Joan Scott, Judith Butler, Anne Fausto- Sterling, and others, for exam-
ple, explored how attributes of bodies (both individual and social) take
shape in relation to particular circumstances that create a materiality
emanating from reiterated cultural performances.3 Scholars have also
assessed the body’s relationship to issues of personal identity, concep-
tions of social order, war making, modes of production and consump-
tion, and norms of physical and social health.
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