Victorian pseudo-anthropology’s fascination with ‘missing links’ derived from a racialist imaginary that equated darkness with primitivity and animality, and whiteness with superiority, and that conjoined the pursuit of Western scientific knowledge with practices of empire and colonization. In this conference we seek to decolonize and reclaim the concept of ‘missing links’ by investigating not only territories or the individual bodies supposedly found there, but the ‘somatechnical’ linkages between them —those very practices of settlement, coercion, cultivation, exploitation, seduction, and domestication that transform individual corporealities into aggregate bodies politic. Think, for example, freak show displays, ethnographies and visual representations of the colonial other, prosthetic technologies to enhance the disabled body, gender reassignment strategies or zoos. It is a mode of analysis that can extend and deepen many contemporary interdisciplinary accounts of embodiment and biopolitical forms.<p><p> The decolonisation of bodies requires making critical connections across putatively different arenas of inquiry - such as postcolonial, indigenous, queer, trans, crip, feminist, critical race, animal, science and technology studies, to name but a few - in order to better conceptualize the intimate and diverse means through which colonization of all types is sustained and reproduced. It necessitates an analysis of the concrete, specific, and material means and processes through which bodies achieve their essentialized (yet historically contingent) forms as racialized, sexed, dis/abled or as natural inhabitants of a land—processes whose operations are masked by their traversal of macro- and micro- scales of organization and management. Equally the divisions of knowledge and affect within the dominant epistemological frame work to prevent us from grasping the extent of the relevant phenomena. Breaking down the segregation of thought within contemporary critical inquiry thus serves a vital political need and calls attention to perhaps unexpected sites of pragmatic decolonial actions, while simultaneously informing new visions of liveable and just social orders.
Editors: Beckman, Frida; Gustavson, Malena
Series: Linköping University Electronic Press Workshop and Conference Collection, 3 (2013)