What are we to make of Bakhtin? Nearly 20 years after his death, the full richness of his ideas has still not been digested. For many people working in the sicial sciences, he remains a mysterious and impenetrable writer. Many are conscious that his ideas are relevant for sociology and cultural studies, but would be hard pressed to give chapter and verse. Others regard Bakhtin as a figure who contributed to the literary and philologic fields of study. This accessible and thoughtful text aims to demonstrate the relevance of Bakhtin to the human sciences. It argues that most of the current literature has been characterized by a superficial appropriation of Bakhtinian ideas and neologisms. What has been neglected is a serious engagement with his core ideas and a sustained reflection on their implications for social and cultural theory. The book aims to extend Bakhtin's ideas into the mainstream social sciences and to reconsider Bakhtin as a social thinker, not just as a literary theorist. The contributors have diverse backgrounds in the social and human sciences. The contributions are organized around the four main themes in Bakhtin's work: dialogics, carnivals, conversations, and ethics and everyday life. The book is equipped with a lively introduction that discusses the importance of Bakhtin as a major intellectual figure and attempts to situate his ideas in current theoretical trends and developments. Suggestive, accurate, and insightful, this book will be of interest to students and researchers working in the fields of the sociology of culture and cultural studies.
Chapter 7: Bakhtin's Dialogical Body Politics
Bakhtin's Dialogical Body Politics
Body am I entirely, and nothing else; and soul is only a word for something about the body.
In Western modernity, it was Descartes who fastens a metaphysical clamp on the interpretive art of the body which I call carnal hermeneutics. The regime of the Cartesian cogito, which represents the habitus of the modern mind, valorizes the canonical institution of the mind's I (eye) which is at once disembodied, monologic, and ocularcentric. It is the mind transcendentalized from, rather than immanentized in, the body. As it is the act of the mind as ‘thinking substance’ (res cogitans), the cogito is inherently monologic because it is always and necessarily ego cogito (the ‘I think’) – the epitome ...