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Body Politics in Development
Critical Debates in Gender and Development
Body Politics in Development sets out to define body politics as a key political and mobilizing force for human rights in the last two decades. This passionate and engaging book reveals how once-tabooed issues, such as rape, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive rights, have emerged into the public arena as critical grounds of contention and struggle.
Engaging in the latest feminist thinking and action, the book describes the struggles around body politics for people living in economic and socially vulnerable communities and covers a broad range of gender and development issues, including fundamentalism, sexualities and new technologies, from diverse viewpoints. The book's originality comes through the author's rich experience and engagement in feminist activism and global body politics and was winner of the 2010 FWSA Book Prize.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Body Politics in Development is about a lot more than "development."This is a book about today's complex international feminist movements. Anyone interested in learning who are the major crafters of feminist discourses, feminist strategies and feminist alliances will be made smarter by reading Wendy Harcourt's deeply informed book.'
Cynthia Enloe, author of 'The Curious Feminist'
'This is a fascinating and original book. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down! Wendy Harcourt's vision of an approach to gender and development as transformative of all relations of power and inequality is breathtaking. Her focus on body politics allows her to strip away the assumptions and myths in gender and development discourses and to explore the "emerging paradigms which are being fostered in the interactions between autonomous feminist movements and transnational economic, environmental and social movements." For those on the inside as well as outside of the development discourse this book is rich with the insights that will provide the knowledge, wisdom and encouragement for the long and winding road ahead.'
'Development has for long assumed a naturalized notion of the body as 'just there,' a passive receptacle for the consciousness of those to be 'developed or 'liberated.' It is this invisibility of the body that this courageous and eminently applicable book seeks not only to unveil but to reverse, proposing in its stead a view of the body as deeply political, one of the main sites where culture and power intersect. Body Politics in Development asks a series of deeply ethical and complex questions. What types of bodies are assumed in gender and development debates? Who speaks for them? Whose bodies matter? How has development functioned as a political technology that normalizes women's bodies? Conversely, what would it take to enable a multiplicity of diverse lived bodies to emerge? Whether we agree with them of nor, all of us will have to contend with the challenging answers emerging from the illuminating pages of this book if we want to move beyond the current 'empowerment lite' gender and development regime. The author has been one of the, if not the most, central figures in the gender and development debate over the past twenty years, and from this theoretical and practical experience that she has given us one of the most compelling accounts of an area of development -gender and the body-that should, if taken seriously, transform our understanding of the field as a whole. This book should be of great interest for development practitioners at all levels, and for courses in globalization, women's, and development studies as well as courses in anthropology, geography, sociology, and international studies dealing with issues of gender in the Global South.'
Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
'In simple lucid prose and with the authoritative voice of someone who has engaged over many years with body politics and its contradictions, frustrations and promises, Harcourt has written a book full of tough questions and challenges for the development practitioner.'
Gita Sen, Indian Institute of Management
'Body Politics in Development is one of the most compelling books I've read about gender and development in recent years. The author's ability to integrate a diverse set of languages and practices and present them in an accessible, understandable manner is remarkable, making this an excellent book to assign in gender and development or globalisation courses.'
Suzanne Bergeron, University of Michigan Dearborn