Somapower and microphysics of emancipation

Leszek Koczanowicz 

Ever since Michel Foucault’s seminal work on biopolitics there has been a growing interest in the body as a locus of social control.  However, the stress on corporeal restrictions and limitations has eclipsed the other facet of the issue, that is, the potential of the body as a vehicle of emancipation. In my presentation, I focus on this function of the body, drawing on John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy and Richard Shusterman’s neo-pragmatism as my theoretical framework.  Both thinkers claim that an individual’s corporeal activity can be of an emancipatory significance as both assume that the body is not only a passive entity dominated by impersonal social forces but also, potentially, a medium of self-improvement. This theoretical perspective enables me to integrate various studies on the relevance of corporeal activity to social, political, and cultural emancipation. Emancipatory corporeal activities are best visible on the level of everyday life, but they can also cumulate and take a political form. In my presentation, I address these tensions and dynamics.