5b.ikuscommentary.mendel_riegler (p)

5b.ikuscommentary.mendel_riegler (p) -...

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: Bodies
of
Knowledge—Knowledge
of
Bodies.
 Commentary
on
“Re­Constructing
Women’s
 Experiences
of
Sexual
Pain:
The
‘Deviant’
Body
as
an
 Object
of
Cultural
Psychological
and
Feminist
 Consideration.”
(Julia
Riegler)
 IRIS
MENDEL
 University
of
Vienna
 
 
 
 Interest
 in
 feminist
 critique
 of
 science
 and
 epistemological
 and
 methodological
 issues
 often
 arises
 from
 some
 dissatisfaction
 with
 one’s
 scientific
 discipline.
 Coming
 from
 different
disciplines—psychology
and
sociology/social
and
political
thought—Julia
and
I
 still
 seem
 to
 share
 much
 of
 this
 dissatisfaction
 with
 our
 discipline(ing).
 The
 bodily
 dimension
of
this
disciplining
is
made
apparent
in
Julia’s
paper.
 
 Julia
and
I
are
working
together
in
a
transdisciplinary
project
called
Criticizing
science
by
 politicizing
 epistemology
 and
 the
 body.1
 So
 far,
 I
 have
 considered
 myself
 to
 be
 on
 the
 epistemology
 part
 of
 the
 project,
 not
 the
 body
 one.
 Despite
 the
 focus
 on
 the
 social
 situatedness
 of
 knowledge
 in
 my
 own
 work,
 I
 have
 not
 paid
 much
 attention
 to
 the
 embodiment
 of
 knowledge
 and
 the
 body
 as
 subject/object
 of
 knowledge
 production.
 Coming
 from
 the
 sociology
 of
 knowledge
 (in
 particular
 Mannheim)
 and
 feminist
 epistemologies,
my
interest
was
more
on
the
sociological
and
feminist
reconstruction
of
 epistemology,
 that
 is
 on
 the
 social
 structures
 and
 cultural
 factors
 shaping
 knowledge
 production
 and
 on
 critical
 social
 theories
 capturing
 these.
 Obviously,
 I
 have
 not
 conceived
 of
 either
the
structures
 or
 the
 knowing
subjects
 as
 embodied,
even
though
 I
 was
 familiar
 with
 Bourdieu’s
 concept
 of
 habitus.
 It
 is
 also
 due
 to
 Julia’s
 project
 that
 I
 became
aware
of
this
‘rationalist
fallacy’
which
is
significant
in
its
own
right.
 
 As
Julia
tells
us
in
her
paper,
the
body
has
long
been
neglected
by
the
social
sciences
as
 an
 object
of
interest,
 let
alone
as
potential
 subject
of
knowledge
production.
Traditional
 epistemology
 still
 follows
 the
 Cartesian
 mind‐body‐dualism
 or
 postulates
 the
 ideal
 of
 “knowledge
 without
 subject”
 (Popper,
 1973)—and
 hence
 without
 body.
 The
 implied
 model
for
the
 knowing
subject
 in
epistemology
and
for
the
 researcher
in
the
 scientific
 field
is
the
bourgeois
white
male,
separate
from
the
daily
activities
of
(re)production
and
 hence
 apparently
 capable
 of
 rising
 above
 nature
 and
 the
 body
 into
 the
 realm
 of
 culture—and
 knowledge,
 “committing”
 what
 Donna
 Haraway
 (1991,
 p.
 189)
 calls
 the
 “god‐trick
of
seeing
everything
from
nowhere.”
It
is
thus
precisely
the
 ignorance
of
the
 concrete
 material
 reality
 of
 everyday
 life,
 the
 alleged
 non‐situatedness
 and
 disembodiment,
only
open
to
the
‘unmarked’
body/subject,
which
 is
assumed
to
lead
to
 knowledge—an
 ignorance
 which
 is
 often
 called
 “objectivity,”
 as
 Lorraine
 Code
 (2007)
 maintains.
 This
ignorance
of
the
body
as
more
than
a
‘given’
 object
for
natural
scientific
 research
 may
 be
 considered
 part
 of
 the
 illusio
 of
the
scientific
 field:
the
 belief
that
 the
 1
We
areworking
on
this
project,
funded
by
 Austrian
Academy
of
Science,
together
with
Julia
Hertlein
and
 Nora
Ruck,
who
is
also
contributing
to
this
volume.
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
75
‐
79 75 body
is
at
most
an
irritation
in
knowledge
production
and
that
disembodied
knowledge
 is
not
only
possible,
but
also
a
qualification
for
objectivity.
While
criticizing
the
gendered
 Western
 dualisms
 of
 mind/body,
 culture/nature,
 rationality/emotionality
 etc.
 from
 a
 feminist
 perspective,
 I
 obviously
 got
 somewhat
 caught
 in
 the
 rationalist
 fallacy
 of
 epistemology
and
the
illusio
of
the
scientific
field
too.
 
 What
is
needed,
then,
is
an
account
of
the
body
that
does
not
take
it
as
a
given
object
of
 research
 or
 part
 of
 the
 material
 conditions
 for
 intellectual
 production,
 but
 as
 epistemologically
relevant
in
its
own
right.
Julia
pursues
such
an
account
by
turning
to
 Bourdieu’s
 concept
 of
 habitus.
 Bourdieu
 introduces
 the
 concept
 of
 habitus
 in
 order
 to
 overcome
the
opposition
of
subjectivism
and
objectivism
or
individual
and
society
in
the
 social
 sciences.
 The
 habitus
 is
 both
 subject
 and
 object
 of
 the
 social
 world,
 that
 is,
 it
 produces
 the
 social
 while
 always
 already
 and
 constantly
 being
 produced
 by
 it.
 The
 habitus
is
also
 individual
and
 social
 at
the
same
time,
describing
an
individual’s
system
 of
 dispositions
 resulting
 from
 experiences
 that
 are
 always
 shaped
 by
 social
 structure
 (e.g.
class,
gender,
or
race).
Since
these
experiences
are
incorporated,
the
habitus
can
be
 considered
embodied
history
(Bourdieu,
2001,
p.
193).
 
 Comprising
 a
 social
 actor’s
 schemes
 of
 perception,
 thought,
 and
 action
 (Bourdieu,
 1993b,
 p.
 101),
 the
 habitus
 both
 enables
 and
 sets
 limits
 to
 what
 we
 may
 know
 at
 all.
 Thus,
 like
 for
 Mannheim,
 one’s
 social
 position
 is
 a
 necessary
 condition
 for
 the
 production
of
knowledge,
and
not
something
to
be
overcome.
It
is
only
because
we
are
 part
 of
 the
 social
 world
 that
 we
 can
 know
 it,
 both
 bodily
 and
 rationally.
 For
 we
 have
 acquired
the
necessary
dispositions,
schemes,
and
concepts
in
order
to
grasp
the
world
 in
the
everyday
(what
Bourdieu
calls
“practical
knowledge”)
and
to
explain
it
rationally
 (“theoretical
knowledge”
for
Bourdieu).
However,
theory
and
practice
follow
a
different
 logic
according
to
Bourdieu
and
it
is
only
due
to
the
“scholastic
bias”
(Bourdieu,
1993a,
 p.
371),
i.e.
the
researcher’s
tendency
to
substitute
her/his
own
way
of
thinking
for
the
 one
of
the
social
actor,
that
the
difference
between
theory
and
practice
is
ignored.
While
 the
 habitus
 is
 central
 on
 the
 level
 of
 everyday
 practices,
 generating—often
 unconsciously
 and
 unintentionally—everyday
 knowledge
 and
 actions,
 on
 the
 level
 of
 theoretical
 knowledge
 the
 habitus
 is
 rather
 an
 object
 of
 reflection.
 Thus,
 Bourdieu
 emphasizes
the
role
of
the
body
in
the
production
of
practical
knowledge,
but
pays
less
 attention
 to
 the
 epistemological
 potential
 of
 the
 body
 with
 regard
 to
 theoretical
 knowledge
production
or
‘scientific
practice.’
 
 Julia
 and
 I
 have
 been
 discussing
 how
 the
 involvement
 of
 the
 knowing
 body
 as
 both
 subject
and
object
in
the
research
process
may
be
accomplished.
Instead
of
a
theoretical
 answer,
 I
 will
 present
 some
 cursory
 ideas
 we
 have
 developed
 following
 an
 intensive
 team
 discussion
 of
 a
 case
study
 based
on
one
 of
 Julia’s
 interviews.
At
 one
point
 in
our
 meeting,
 a
 debate
 arouse
 regarding
 Julia’s
 style
 of
 representation.
 To
 us,
 Julia
 seemed
 somewhat
irritated
by
the
interviewee.
When
confronted
with
our
impression,
Julia
first
 denied
 having
 any
 such
 feelings.
 She
 then
 found
 that
 she
 actually
 had
 been
 impatient
 and
 annoyed
 because
 she
 felt
 that
 the
 interviewee
 had
 kept
 her
 at
 distance
 by
 persistently
 presenting
 her
 own
 theories
 about
 her
 experiences.
 Julia’s
 feelings
 are
 instructive
for
the
dynamic
of
the
relationship
between
the
interviewee
and
Julia,
which
 does
 not
 necessarily
 show
on
 a
 verbal
 level.
 Obviously,
 the
 interviewee
 did
not
 follow
 the
 structure
of
 a
 narrative
 which
Julia
was
(methodologically)
expecting.
 This
may
be
 interpreted
as
a
resistant
act:
a
refusal
of
compliance
that
is
not
articulated
explicitly.
Of
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
75
‐
79 76 course,
 a
 sophisticated
 and
 careful
 interpretation
 is
 needed—and
 will
 certainly
 be
 accomplished
 by
 Julia—in
 order
 to
 analyse
 in
 what
 way
 the
 relationship
 between
 the
 interviewee
 and
 Julia
 may
 be
 significant
 for
 other
 relationships
 of
 the
 interviewee,
 in
 particular
her
often
painfully
experienced
heterosexual
relationships.
The
point
I
would
 like
 to
 make
 is
 that
 the
 bodily
 and
 affective
 responses
 of
 both
 researcher
 and
 interviewee
are
epistemologically
significant
for
the
production
of
knowledge.
Hence
we
 must
 consider
 the
 knowing
 body
 and
 the
 affective
 dimension
 of
 knowledge—not
only
 with
 regard
 to
 the
 research(ed)
 subjects
 (the
 women
 feeling
 the
 pain),
 but
 also
 with
 regard
to
another
knowing
subject:
the
researcher.
 
 One
 may
 conclude
 that
 considering
the
knowing
 body
 as
 epistemological
agent
simply
 requires
 reflecting
 on
 one’s
 body—posture,
 affects,
 feelings,
 etc.—in
 the
 research
 process,
for
instance
in
one’s
research
diary
(see
for
example
Werlhoff,
1984).
While
this
 may
 be
 an
 important
 step,
 it
 is
 not
 sufficient
 in
 order
 to
 analyse
 the
 operating
 of
 the
 habitus
 (or
 the
 knowing
 body),
 which
 is
 often
 unconscious
 and
 unintentional
 and
 not
 simply
available
to
us.
Following
Bourdieu’s
praxeological
approach,
as
it
is
taken
up
by
 Julia,
 we
 thus
 have
 to
 consider
 the
 habitus
 or
 the
 knowing
 body
 with
 regard
 to
 the
 different
 logic
 of
 theory
 and
 practice.
 I
 would
 argue
 that
 conducting
 an
 interview—in
 the
 best
 case—follows
 both
 a
 theoretical
 and
 a
 practical
 logic
 with
 the
 researcher
 getting
involved
as
actor
in
the
social
world
and
as
researcher
in
the
scientific
field.
Thus
 the
researcher
also
employs
“atheoretical,
implicit
knowledge,”
as
Julia
calls
it,
in
her/his
 own
 research.
 The
 implicit
 knowledge,
 then,
 is
 not
 necessarily
 available
 to
 the
 researcher
 either.
 Therefore,
 reflection
 on
 the
 habitus—and
 the
 body
 as
 epistemic
 agent—cannot
 be
 an
 individual
 business.
 This
 would
 precisely
 replicate
 the
 methodological
 individualism
 which
 Julia
 criticizes
 on
 another
 level.
 That
 is
 why
 for
 Bourdieu
 (1993a,
 p.
 366)
the
 scientific
field
has
to
 be
turned
 into
 subject
and
 object
of
 reflexive
analysis.
How
this
may
be
accomplished
practically
is
another
question.
In
our
 case,
 it
 was
 due
 to
 our
 transdisciplinary
 team
 that
 we
 managed
 to
 establish
 a
 site
 for
 meta‐theoretical
discussion
and
reflection,
a
site
in
which
Julia’s
affective
responses
and
 feelings
 as
 a
 researcher
 could
 be
 discussed.
 Perhaps
 this
 site
 of
 reflection
 constitutes
 one
of
the
epistemological
and
methodological
advantages
of
transdisciplinary
research
 teams.
 
 After
 pointing
 out
 how
 Julia’s
 research
 addresses
 epistemological
 and
 methodological
 questions
 concerning
 the
 role
 of
 the
 body
 as
 subject/object
 of
 knowledge,
 which
 are
 instructive
 for
 my
 own
 work
 in
 philosophy
 of
 social
 science,
 I
 will
 shortly
 turn
 to
 the
 overall
 theme
 of
 Julia’s
 paper:
 the
 construction
 of
 a
 scientific
 subject/object
 and
 the
 symbolic
and
epistemic
power
(and
sometimes
violence)
involved
in
this
process.
In
this
 context,
 Julia
 puts
 forward
 a
 critique
 of
 the
 epistemological
 and
 methodological
 foundations
 of
 mainstream
 psychology
 and
 its
 natural
 scientific
 research
 paradigm,
 focussing
in
particular
on
the
problems
of
reification
and
methodological
individualism.
 
 By
 “reification”
 Julia
 refers
 to
 a
 process
 of
 turning
 social
 phenomena
 into
 ‘things,’
 abstracting
them
from
the
concrete
social
relations
in
which
they
are
actually
produced.
 Concepts
 or
 scientific
 abstractions
 are
 thus
 treated
 as
 reality
 ‘out
 there,’
 as
 something
 actually
 existing.
 I
 think
 the
 concept
 of
 reification
 gains
 critical
 impact
 if
 we
 take
 into
 account
 the
 historical
 context
 and
 critical
 intention
 of
 its
 formulation.
 The
 concept
 of
 reification
was
developed
by
Marx
(MEW
23)
with
regard
to
the
commodity
form
and
in
 particular
 spelled
 out
 by
 Georg
 Lukács
 (1923),
 who
 was
 also
 influential
 for
 the
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
75
‐
79 77 
 development
 of
 Mannheim’s
 sociology
 of
 knowledge.
 Marx
 introduced
 the
 notion
 of
 reification
 with
 regard
 to
 political
 economy
 and
 as
 a
 critique
 of
 a
 particular
 common
 sense
 and
scientific
method
of
reasoning,
reifying
social
relations
and
 attributing
them
 to
things
(like
value
as
a
result
of
human
labour
in
particular
relations
of
production
is
 regarded
as
a
quality
of
the
commodity
itself).
Thus
there
is
an
inversion
of
subject
and
 object
involved
in
reification.
Despite
being
the
product
of
our
(practical
or
intellectual)
 activities,
 the
reified
 ‘thing’—e.g.,
 a
scientific
concept
 like
 ‘dyspareunia’—seems
to
 gain
 autonomous
 existence
 and
 power
 over
 our
 lives.
 Thus
 ‘dyspareunia
 appears
 as
 something—a
 medical
 condition,
 a
 defect—affecting
 women
 and
 not
 as
 a
 product
 of
 social
 relations
 and
 practices.
 This
 process
 of
 reification
 may
 be
 linked
 to
 the
 tautological
 principle
 of
 explanation
 involved
 in
 the
 analysis
 of
 any
 abnormality,
 according
 to
 Foucault
 (1975,
 p.
 78):
 Women
 then
 simply
 suffer
 pain
 in
 heterosexual
 intercourse
because
they
have
dyspareunia.
 
 Medical
 and
 psychological
 diagnoses
 can
 thus
 be
 understood
 as
 reifying
 theories
 and
 practices
 that
 are
 inscribed
 in
 the
 body
 and,
 as
 a
 consequence,
 part
 of
 a
 subject’s
 knowledge
 and
 practices.
 It
 has
 to
 be
 emphasized,
 therefore,
 that
 the
 habitus
 or
 the
 knowing
body
in
itself
does
not
provide
any
more
‘authentic’
or
‘immediate’
knowledge,
 but
 rather
 constitutes
 the
 methodological
 starting
 point
 for
 analysing
 how
 the
 phenomenon
in
question,
e.g.
sexual
pain,
is
(re)produced
on
an
everyday
basis
and
the
 social
relations
and
structures
involved
in
this
(re)production.
 
 It
 is
 no
 coincidence
 that
 reification
 and
 methodological
 individualism
 are
 appearing
 together
 in
 mainstream
 psychology,
 for
 they
 are
 both
 disregarding
 social
 relations.
 Hence,
mainstream
psychology’s
‘two
core
epistemological
prejudices’
identified
by
Julia
 are
 linked
 to
 one
 ‘ontological
 ignorance’:
 the
 ignorance
 of
 social
 relations
 linked
 to
 an
 atomistic
 understanding
 the
 social.
 In
 this
 regard,
 Bourdieu’s
 relational
 sociology
 evident
in
 his
 concept
of
habitus
and
 to
feminist
theories
 are
 productive
approaches
if
 one,
like
Julia,
takes
the
challenge
of
criticizing
The
Conceptual
Practices
of
Power
(Smith,
 1990)
involved
in
mainstream
psychology’s
treatment
of
(women’s)
bodies.
 
 References
 Bourdieu,
P.
 (1993a).
 Narzißtische
 Reflexivität
und
wissenschaftliche
 Reflexivität.
 In
 E.
 Berg,
 &
 M.
 Fuchs
 (Eds.),
 Kultur,
 soziale
 Praxis,
 Text.
 Die
 Krise
 der
 ethnographischen
Repräsentation
(365‐374).
Frankfurt/M.:
Suhrkamp.
 Bourdieu,
 P.
 (1993b).
 Sozialer
 Sinn.
 Kritik
 der
 theoretischen
 Vernunft.
 Frankfurt/M.:
 Suhrkamp.
 Bourdieu,
P.
(2001).
 Meditationen.
 Zur
Kritik
der
 scholastischen
Vernunft.
 Frankfurt/M.:
 Suhrkamp.
 Code,
L.
(2007).
The
power
of
ignorance.
In
S.
Sullivan,
&
N.
Tuana
(Eds.),
Epistemologies
 of
ignorance.
Albany:
Suny
Press.
 Foucault,
 M.
 (1975,
 2007).
 Die
 Anormalen.
 Vorlesungen
 am
 Collège
 de
 France
 (1974­ 1975).
Frankfurt/M.:
Suhrkamp.
 Haraway,
D.
(1991).
 Simians,
cyborgs,
and
women.
The
reinvention
of
nature.
 New
York:
 Routledge.
 Lukács,
G.
(1923).
 Frühschriften
II:
Geschichte
und
Klassenbewusstsein.
Neuwied,
Berlin:
 Luchterhand
1968.
(=
Werke.
2.)
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
75
‐
79 78 Marx,
K.
(1867).
 Das
Kapital.
Kritik
der
politischen
Ökonomie.
1
Bd.
Berlin:
Dietz
1962.
(=
 MEW
23).
 Popper,
K.
(1973).
 Objektive
Erkenntnis.
Ein
evolutionärer
Entwurf.
 Hamburg:
Hoffmann
 &
Campe.
 Smith,
 D.
 (1990).
 The
 conceptual
 practices
 of
 power.
 A
 feminist
 sociology
 of
 knowledge.
 Boston:
Northeastern
University
Press.
 Werlhoff,
C.
von
(1984).
Vom
Boden
des
Fasses
aus…
Beiträge
zur
feministischen
Theorie
 und
Praxis,
11,
111‐122.
 
 AUTHOR
BIOGRAPHY
 
 Iris
 Mendel
 is
 a
 PhD
 student
 in
 Philosophy
 of
 Science
 and
 recipient
 of
 a
 DOC‐team‐ fellowship
 of
 the
 Austrian
 Academy
 of
 Science
 at
 the
 Department
 of
 Philosophy,
 University
of
Vienna.
 Her
main
research
interests
are
feminist
epistemologies,
sociology
 of
 knowledge,
 philosophy
 of
 the
 social
 sciences,
 and
 feminist
 theories.
 Email
 iris.mendel@univie.ac.at
 Psychology
&
Society,
2009,
Vol.
2
(1),
75
‐
79 79 ...
View Full Document

Ask a homework question - tutors are online