Power and Bodily Practice: Applying the Work of Foucault to an Anthropology of the Body

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/110194
Title:
Power and Bodily Practice: Applying the Work of Foucault to an Anthropology of the Body
Author:
Pylypa, Jen
Citation:
Arizona Anthropologist #13: pp. 21-36, ©1998 Association of Student Anthropologists, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
Publisher:
University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology
Journal:
Arizona Anthropologist
Issue Date:
1998
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/110194
Abstract:
In opposition to theories of power which focus on the domination of one group by another, Michel Foucault coined the term "biopower" to refer to the ways in which power manifests itself in the form of daily practices and routines through which individuals engage in self-surveillance and self-discipline, and thereby subjugate themselves. Biopower is a useful concept for medical anthropology because it focuses on the body as the site of subjugation, and because it highlights how individuals are implicated in their own oppression as they participate in habitual daily practices such as the self-regulation of hygiene, health, and sexuality. Yet few medical anthropologists have taken advantage of Foucault's framework to illuminate how both the individual and society are involved in perpetuating such practices. This paper brings together Foucault's theory and three concrete examples of bodily practice in Western culture, demonstrating how behaviors associated with physical fitness, femininity, and obstetrical practices all contribute to the creation of "docile bodies". The article ends by considering why some scholars have found Foucault's conception of power to be problematic.
Type:
Article
Language:
en_US
Keywords:
Foucault; power; health; fitness; femininity; anorexia; obstetrics; women; medical anthropology
ISSN:
1062-1601

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorPylypa, Jenen_US
dc.date.accessioned2010-08-24T01:04:15Z-
dc.date.available2010-08-24T01:04:15Z-
dc.date.issued1998-
dc.identifier.citationArizona Anthropologist #13: pp. 21-36, ©1998 Association of Student Anthropologists, Department of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721en_US
dc.identifier.issn1062-1601-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10150/110194-
dc.description.abstractIn opposition to theories of power which focus on the domination of one group by another, Michel Foucault coined the term "biopower" to refer to the ways in which power manifests itself in the form of daily practices and routines through which individuals engage in self-surveillance and self-discipline, and thereby subjugate themselves. Biopower is a useful concept for medical anthropology because it focuses on the body as the site of subjugation, and because it highlights how individuals are implicated in their own oppression as they participate in habitual daily practices such as the self-regulation of hygiene, health, and sexuality. Yet few medical anthropologists have taken advantage of Foucault's framework to illuminate how both the individual and society are involved in perpetuating such practices. This paper brings together Foucault's theory and three concrete examples of bodily practice in Western culture, demonstrating how behaviors associated with physical fitness, femininity, and obstetrical practices all contribute to the creation of "docile bodies". The article ends by considering why some scholars have found Foucault's conception of power to be problematic.en_US
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.publisherUniversity of Arizona, Department of Anthropologyen_US
dc.subjectFoucaulten_US
dc.subjectpoweren_US
dc.subjecthealthen_US
dc.subjectfitnessen_US
dc.subjectfemininityen_US
dc.subjectanorexiaen_US
dc.subjectobstetricsen_US
dc.subjectwomenen_US
dc.subjectmedical anthropologyen_US
dc.titlePower and Bodily Practice: Applying the Work of Foucault to an Anthropology of the Bodyen_US
dc.typeArticleen_US
dc.identifier.journalArizona Anthropologisten_US
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