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Natureculture Origined: An intersectional feminist study of notions of the natural, the healthy and the Palaeolithic past in the popular science imaginary of biomechanics
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Situated in a time of advanced technoscience and new materialist feminist humanities/social sciences, this thesis explores how popular science renditions of biomechanics contribute to transforming imaginaries about “the natural” and “healthy”. It does so by zooming in on biomechanical scientist Katy Bowman’s pervasive and life-style commitment-requiring teaching. Her books and online material conceptualise and connect a bodily dependency on adequate physical load environments to an imagined natural health of our Palaeolithic ancestors. Drawing on several postconventional fields gathered under the banner of feminist posthumanisms and posthumanities (Braidotti 2013; Åsberg 2014), this thesis demonstrates how gendered and otherwise intersectionally interpreted fantasies intra-act with Bowman’s specific bodily practices, constructing a natural with both limiting and liberating consequences. Notions of the natural in popularised biomechanics are here explored foremost with a focus on the formative categories of gender and class. More explicitly, the thesis shows how Bowman’s teaching, on the one hand, links well with theorisings of corporeal, environmental and material feminist scholars, such as Elizabeth Grosz’s (1994) and Stacy Alaimo’s (2010) notions of environed corporeality and trans-corporeality. On the other hand, though, Bowman’s popularised biomechanics simultaneously reinforces a troublesome nature-culture divide and neo-liberal discourses on health as choice. However, while downplaying sociocultural and economical factors, and underpinning essentialist notions of motherhood, Bowman’s popular science also destabilises masculine understandings of the natural as tough; acknowledges material, individual and collective agency; and, offers effective techniques for managing various health conditions – all in ways that may well be interpreted and practiced within feminist registers. Based on this example from Bowman’s popular science, the author argues that contemporary Western understandings of the natural are influenced by a longing for self-commitment, control and connectedness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 92 p.
Keyword [en]
gender, class, corporeality, intersectionality, feminist cultural studies, biomechanics, popular science
National Category
Gender Studies Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-121249ISRN: LIU-TEMS G/GSIC2-A-15/004-SEOAI: diva2:852821
Subject / course
Gender Studies - Intersectionality and Change, Two Year
Available from: 2015-09-15 Created: 2015-09-10 Last updated: 2015-09-17Bibliographically approved

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Johansson, Åsa
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