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Body Equivocal: Social construction and Biological fact
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2007 (English)Conference paper (Other (popular scientific, debate etc.))
Abstract [en]

In this paper we will address some crucial questions that seem to arise when one tries to combine social scientific epistemologies with those informing the natural sciences. Taking as our point of departure contemporary attempts of thinking gender in such a way, we pinpoint two important issues. First, an argument is developed concerning the complex status bodily matters within feminist/gender studies, focusing upon a recently noticed tendency among Swedish feminist scholars to regard with suspicion radical social constructionist understandings of the sex-gender problematic, i.e. the idea of taking the body as yet another construction. Simultaneously acknowledging problems of essentialism, these scholars introduce a kind of “third way” position, implicitly reintroducing the body as a biological fact. The aim of our argument is then to examine this reintroduction and its epistemological presuppositions, from a poststructuralist informed pondering of the body as limit. Secondly, through these discussions we return to the issue of how to conceive of the difference between, on the one hand, this view of the body as limit, and on the other hand, the objectivist perspective as a natural fact. From this encounter we conclude that the body as phenomenon cannot be reduced to either limit or objective fact, but that it plays completely different epistemological roles depending on the theoretical context, in which it is introduced. And, finally, we argue that a possible rapprochement between the social and the natural scientific understanding of gender, sexuality and the body must take these fundamental issues into close consideration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-10578OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-10578DiVA: diva2:38346
Paper presentation på konferensen "Sociologi i Sverige i samtiden", Sociologförbundets årsmöte, Lund, 8-9 Februar1: 2007.Available from: 2007-04-05 Created: 2007-04-05

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Palm, Fredrik
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Centre for Gender ResearchDepartment of Sociology

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