Keeping the (Gendered) Body in Mind:  Doing Yoga with Foucault”

Dr. Cressida Heyes, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality, University of Alberta

“Philosophy of the body” often becomes something of an oxymoron: we think critically about bodies but usually from the head up, without integrating somatic practice into philosophical inquiry. For many practitioners developing bodily awareness is part of the solution to our disembodied existence. But awareness can itself come in different forms, some of which simply sediment the normalizing, panoptic experience of our embodied subjectivity that Foucault famously theorizes. This is especially true for women and for queer or gender non-conforming people, who are likely already to be self-conscious of their bodies due to objectification and alienation from their lived experience and desires. Thus the teaching of body politics can serve to perpetuate rather than genuinely undercut the embodied dynamics it purports to criticise. This presentation draws on the experience of teaching philosophy of the body and of teaching yoga (including within the same course) to argue that certain somatic practices can have politically liberatory effects for those who have been rendered “docile.”

Where: Swing Space Building,  2175 WEST MALL

When:  Oct 20, 2008, 4pm