Urban Bodies, Embodied Cities

Kathryn Zyskowski (University of Washington) and Camille Frazier (University of California, Los Angeles)

This panel explores the spaces of intersection between bodies and cityscapes. Theoretical considerations of the interconnections among bodies, cities, and power have been foundational to anthropological understandings of urban social worlds (de Certeau 1984; Foucault et al. 2008). More recent work has focused attention on diverse topics such as food, infrastructure, gender, and labor as insight into the embodied realities of shifting cityscapes and urban development worldwide. An analysis of bodies at work and play allows for analytic to understand cityscapes and the urban form. We draw inspiration from recent scholarship on bodies and the city, including Solomon’s (2016) exploration of the porous relationship between bodies and urban environments, Anjaria’s (2016) examination of how embodied urban experiences lay the foundation for diverse and conflicting understandings of political subjectivity, and Hoffman’s (2011) tracing of how young male bodies in urban West Africa are made available for violent labor. In this panel, we specifically aim to look at how the processes and politics of urban development work to embed bodies in structures of political, social, and economic inequality, as well as how bodies become sites of resistance. Our intention is to explore both “the body” and “the city” as cultural and political categories that, in their intersections, expose diverse and shifting meanings of community, subjectivity, and wellbeing. Through cities, we can see how bodies—human and otherwise—are conceived, made, and remade.

We welcome papers considering the following questions, among others:

  • What relationships exist between bodies and urban environments, broadly conceived?
  • How are these relationships understood, practiced, and contested in different contexts?
  • What are the other salient sites of analytic for embodiment and urban space? For example: infrastructure, sound, pathways and maps, technologies – things that cue leisure, work, and violence.
  • How are new technologies changing prior theorizations of the body and the city? For example, mobile phones and digital cab-hailing technologies.
  • What is new, if anything, about how bodies and cities intersect?

If interested, please send a paper title and abstract (250 words) to Camille Frazier (c.frazier@ucla.edu) and Kathryn Zyskowski (kcz@uw.edu) by Friday, March 31st. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Camille and Kathryn

Anjaria, Jonathan. 2016. The Slow Boil: Street Food, Rights and Public Space in Mumbai. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
de Certeau, Michel. 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hoffman, Danny. 2011. The War Machines: Young Men and Violence in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Durham: Duke University Press.
Foucault, Michel, Graham Burchell, ed., and Arnold Davidson, trans. 2008. The birth of biopolitics: lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-79. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Solomon, Harris. 2016. Metabolic Living: Food, Fat, and the Absorption of Illness in India. Durham: Duke University Press Books.