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The Regulation Of Bodies For Public View

1705 words - 7 pages

The dichotomous relationship between colonizer racial superiority on the one hand and between colonized racial inferiority on the other hand, had to be institutionalized through certain tools with a specific mechanism so as to ensure the continuous functioning(s) of colonial relationships. This paper argues that this tool is female bodies of both the colonizers and colonized, where the specific mechanism is the regulation of the reproductive functions and sexualities of such bodies. This paper aims to show this by outlining the shortcomings of understanding the regulation of bodies as a mere reflection of pre-existing colonial relations as articulated David Halperin and Edward Said. Then the paper will outline the theoretical framework the author seeks to use. Finally, the paper will use an exterior colonial model case study and an interior model case study to support the outlined theoretical framework.
Debate still exists among scholars over whether the regulation of bodies should be understood as a fundamental aspect in the creation of colonial/power relations (which is the position this paper is taking), or whether such a regulation is a mere reflection of previously established power relations.
David Halperin,for example, produces an understanding of the nature of sexual relations and sexual roles in Ancient Athens as a reflection of pre-existing interior colonial model between the superordinate citizens and the subordinate non-citizens. It was the superordinate citizens who were expected to penetrate and gain sexual jouissance from sexual encounters with the subordinate non-citizens. The exclusivity of having the power to penetrate and the exclusivity of the expectation of jouissance,indicates the ownership of a phallus. These sexual roles and practices thereby reflect and reproduce the pre-existing superior citizenship status of the superordinate on the one hand, whilst simultaneously castrating the subordinate of this phallus thereby reproducing and reflecting his/her pre-existing inferior non-citizen status. Thus, for, Harpelein “the social body proceeds the sexual body”(8); the shape of the former is merely reflected and reproduced (not created) by the latter.
Edward Said produces an understanding of sexual/colonial relations which resonates with the latter scholarly tradition. Thus, Orientalism to Said is “a male power fantasy in which the Orient is penetrated, silenced, and possessed” . Said views the relationship between the Orient and the Occident as a large rape narrative which reflects a larger and pre-existing schema of domination and subordination. Thus, the Oriental rape narrative is not the premise of Occidental colonial power, but rather an effect or reflection of it.
The largest criticism of Said's ‘reflection thesis’ is that it ignores how colonized and colonial female bodies alike, were used as sites for the creation of racial boundaries that were necessary to the establishment of colonialism. What Said...

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