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Friday, October 15, 2010

Bodies in Contact edited by Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton~★★★★

Editors: Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton
Title: Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History
Release Date: January 1st, 2005
Publisher: Duke University Press Books 
Genre: Non-Fiction

Book Cover: "From portrayals of African women's bodies in early modern European travel accounts to the relation between celibacy and Indian nationalism to the fate of the Korean 'comfort women' forced into prostitution by the occupying Japanese army during the Second World War, the essays collected in Bodies in Contact demonstrate how a focus on the body as a site of cultural encounter provides essential insights into world history. Together these essays reveal the 'body as contact zone' as a powerful analytic rubric for interpreting the mechanisms and legacies of colonialism and illuminating how attention to gender alters understandings of world history. Rather than privileging the operations of the Foreign Office or gentlemanly capitalists, these historical studies render the home, the street, the school, the club, and the marketplace visible as sites of imperial ideologies. 
Bodies in Contact brings together important scholarship on colonial gender studies gathered from journals around the world. Breaking with approaches to world history as the history of 'the West and the rest,' the contributors offer a panoramic perspective. They examine aspects of imperial regimes including the Ottoman, Mughal, Soviet, British, Han, and Spanish, over a span of six hundred years---from the fifteenth century through the mid-twentieth. Discussing subjects such as slavery and travel, ecclesiastical colonialism and military occupation, marriage and property, nationalism and football, immigration and temperance, Bodies in Contact puts women, gender, and sexuality at the center of the 'master narratives' of imperialism and world history." 

Taryn's Review: We only read selected essays from this book, but the ones I read I truly enjoyed. I think the new area within history called "body studies" is a fascinating angle and a nice supplement to gender analysis.

Some essays were very readable, some were not. While reading one of the essays, I wrote down a column of words I needed to look up! The essays brought up some good thinking material and I love stepping outside the colonizers' views to get a better understanding of the indigenous people. My favorite essay from the book was by Heidi Gengenbach and her essay was called, "Tattooed Secrets: Women's History in Magude District, Southern Mozambique." Another of my favorites was Lucy Eldersveld Murphy's "Native American and Metis Women as 'Public Mothers' in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest." However, I didn't necessarily think Eldersveld Murphy's essay belonged in the book, despite my enjoyment of it. I felt like it focused more on gender rather than the actual body studies of the other essays I read, but I'm also willing to admit because I didn't read all the essays, I might be wrong.

This was a very interesting read with many different essays, so you don't have to be afraid of the size. You can easily read a few essays and put the book down for a few days. If you have an interest in gender or the physical body and its impact on history, try this one.

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