By Alan Hyde
"Alan Hyde has produced a beautiful severe anatomy of the way the human physique figures (and is figured) in American criminal discourse. a person who desires to comprehend the myriad mechanisms through which legislations constructs and regulates corporeality might do good firstly this publication. our bodies of legislations will stand as a decisive intervention within the sudy of legislation and modern 'body politics.'"--Kendall Thomas, Columbia legislation institution the main easy assertions approximately our bodies--that they're ours and distinguish us from one another, that they're inner most and feature barriers, races, and genders--are all political theories, built in felony texts for political reasons. So argues Alan Hyde during this first account of the physique in criminal concept. Hyde demonstrates that not one of the structures of the physique in felony texts are common truths that leisure exclusively on physique event. Drawing on an array of attention-grabbing case fabric, he exhibits that felony texts can build every kind of our bodies, together with those who aren't owned in any respect, which are similar to different our bodies, which are public, open, and available to others. additional, the language, photographs, and metaphors of the physique in criminal texts can usually persuade us of positions to which we might no longer assent as an issue of political thought. via research of criminal texts, Hyde indicates, for instance, how law's phrases build the vagina because the so much searchable physique half; the penis as completely less than psychological regulate; the bone marrow that don't need to be shared with a half-sibling who will die with no it; and urine that has to be surrendered for drug checking out in rituals of nationwide purification. This booklet will curiosity someone serious about cultural reports, gender experiences, ethnic experiences, and political idea, or a person who has heard the word "body developed in discourse" and desires to determine, step-by-step, precisely how this can be performed.
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Additional resources for Bodies of Law
4 The machine body, in all its manifestations in this and the preceding chapter, fits well with a Cartesian dualism in which the body on the one hand and mind or spirit on the other inhabit two different worlds, neither reducible to the other. A machine body is normally a body from which the mind or spirit has been removed, as it were. The machine body can function as the synecdoche for a larger ontology in which mind and body are necessarily disjoined, or, less ambitiously, as a critical metaphor in which some set of social arrangements is criticized for, contra naturem, wrongfully seeking to separate mind from body.
George Hawkins’s hand is constructed as a machine, then, for no particular purpose internal to the opinion, but rather as a typical example of a legal culture oriented away from erotic desire and toward economic selfunderstandings. While this orientation is still found in law, the machine metaphor is rarely invoked any more to support it. When an economic understanding of the body is generally accepted, it is not supported by the machine metaphor; when we are ambivalent about such an economic understanding, we no longer employ that metaphor to help us out of our difficulties.
However, such an interpreter must be silent about a great deal, including, it seems to me, the discursive construction of the body in legal analysis. We know that George Hawkins’s body was constructed as a machine, but we cannot say what legal argument was advanced by this construction; whether any argument was excluded by it; or precisely what the construction meant to its likely hearers. In the next two chapters, I seek to put the machine metaphor into the context of the legal and literary discourse of its day.