Contemporary Political Theory
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This article proposes that feminist phenomenology offers an essential set of conceptual tools for analysing forms of violence which destroy the body beyond the point of death. To illustrate the potential utility of this approach, I apply this lens to the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City. I identify several distinct modes of bodily transformation from the attack, grouped into three broad categories: vaporised bodies, intermingled remains, and hidden fragments. I describe how these transformations unsettled the relationships between bodies and contexts, and occasioned the formation of new relationships in ways that heightened and extended the violence of the attack. I end with a discussion of attempts to resettle and repair these relationships through the creation of fictive bodies. These fictive bodies aim to repair the specific harms caused by the derangement of bodily relations by re-establishing firm boundaries between heroic, national bodies, and the monstrous body of the attacker. Through rigorous engagement with this case, I illustrate the unique potential of feminist phenomenology to account for the relationships between bodies, objects, and spaces as the site of political meaning-making in the aftermath of violence.
Kaku, Archana, The Body in Pieces: Towards a Feminist Phenomenology of Violence (2024). Contemporary Political Theory.