Roots of Power: Animate Form and Gendered Bodies - Maxine Sheets-Johnstone; | Foyles Bookstore
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Roots of Power: Animate Form and Gendered Bodies
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Roots of Power: Animate Form and Gendered Bodies (Paperback)

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Synopsis

This interdisciplinary work demonstrates, by steadfast attention to corporeal matters of fact, how the concept of power and of power relations is rooted in bodily life, in animate form. It first shows how Foucault's "optics of power" is Sartre's "The Look" writ large, and proceeds to explain how optics of power are undergirded by a "power of optics" which has its roots in our primate evolutionary heritage. The exploration of an evolutionary genealogy leads in turn into extended examinations and exemplifications of corporeal and intercorporeal archetypes. Moving easily through biological, anthropological and psychological domains, and informed by keen philosophical reflection, "The Roots of Power" aims to show how the personal and political are fundamentally joined in the body, that is, how the political defines us both as creatures of a natural history and as culturally - and individually - groomed bearers of meaning.

Sheets-Johnstone assesses the complex of topics that progressively surfaces such as females' being receptive "year-round", male threat/female vulnerability, Sartre's characterisation of females' being "in the form of a hole", and proposed relationships between aggression and sex. In addition, she shows through detailed analyses of Derrida's absencing of the living body from the scene of grammatology, and of sociobiologists' explanations of rape as adaptive behaviour how the tenets of postmodernism and sociobiology preclude insight into the personal-political equation. "The Roots of Power" concludes with an extended critical meditation on Lacan's psychoanalytic, showing not only how it is rooted in idiosyncratic archetypal elaborations but how, in its scientisation of life, pedestalling of human language, and silencing of the living body, it is a microcosm of 20th-century Western practices and ideologies.

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