2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Body Modification and Corporeal Cultural Construction
Kade A. Schemahorn
Dr. Natalie Alexander, Faculty Mentor

Body modification is a complex and broad phenomenon in contemporary society. The term evokes images of bodies with tattoos and piercings, but less often do we think of practices like cosmetic and sexual reassignment surgeries, bodybuilding, and even cutting one’s hair and nails. The formal body modification movement consists primarily of white, Western, and often middle-class individuals engaging in traditional body modification practices like tattooing and piercing among other more modern and extreme practices. The psychological literature surrounding this movement often describes practitioners of body modification as engaging in self-injury and mutilation. This paper challenges this body of psychological literature by conceptualizing body modification practitioners in terms of Foucaultian discourse. They are individuals taking an active role in the often violent cultural construction of their bodies.

Keywords: Body Modification, Tattoo & Piercing, Normativity, Michel Foucault, Merleau-Ponty, Cultural Construct, Philosophy, Psychology

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 31-4
Location: OP 2111
Time: 10:30 am

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