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Mind the social gap. Which space for pervert bodies ?

This paper intends to question some bodily and sexual arrangements (acceptations and ruptures) in contemporary France/Europe. Many sociological or geographical studies have shown the varied occupation of public spaces by different minorized social groups. If we leave on the side for now the reflexion that should be made on what “public spaces” are, it still leads to a double question, are public spaces not welcoming for everyone in the same way or do some people excludes themselves from some spaces and/or hold themselves back from some movements ? Furthermore, considering the second part of the question, how and where does a body start to feel it doesn’t “pass” in some spaces ?

The concept of “passing” from which derivate this verb “pass” is strategically used by some minorities (racial and/or sexual) to describe the possibility of being “recognized” (seen, heard, felt...) in and within the codes of hegemony. It is a matter of social movements, a position that has been forced, a location that has been chosen and/or differs from the one in which the person has been brought up. “Passing” means allowing oneself more or less movements according to what one thinks/feels the others think, might think or how they could re/act. “To pass” as concept includes three meanings the English verb to pass can have : to move in a specified direction, to go past or across, to go beyond the limits and to succeed.

To understand better these problematics, the approach will proceed from a field inquiry based on portraits questioning the relationships one cultivate to her body and try to link it to spaces as well as movements one allows to oneself in society. The project is to map “passings” : not only bodies in their movements, but also the territories they need and occupy, the spaces they allow to themselves as well as the gaps and permeabilities pictured between themselves and the others.

This field inquiry comes after an epistemological research on the scientifical production of sexuality through its perversions (sexual inversion – homosexuality, transidentities, fetishism, masochism, sadism) in Europe late 19th century. From this research, and even though pervert bodies are described as bodies that “1- distort or corrupt the original course, meaning, or state of (something) or 2- lead (someone) away from what is considered natural or acceptable” (Oxford Dictionary on line), I was able to conclude that scientifically, socially and politically sexual perversions did not only informed and applied on sexual minorities only, but broadly coded anyone bodies and their limits, that is to say their proximities, distances and possible interactions.

These movements, positions and locations have been politically understood by some minorities who describes/lives bodies and sexual practices as sites of resistance. It might be relevant to study sociologically these phenomenon, in order to understand better through bodily an sexual arrangements how some technics of power and truth materialize in order to requestion and complexify bodies as universal as well as universal means of resistance.

Céline Belledent, Max Weber, Université Jean Monnet, Saint-Etienne (France)

 
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