Anthropology- lecture 7 class notes
Relationship between body ideals and culture. (Beginning of her last chapter
uses metaphor of crystallization)
Used to describe different cultural logics, economic logics, and Islamic logic.
The things that are intangible they are logic you can’t see them, the come
together and made visible, something you can see and touch can react to.
Once they’re crystallized they become mutually reinforcing and sustaining.
Because they’re desirable, they can get married, because they’re married they
can have kids.
Susan Bordo used the term, to think about anorexia nervosa. You can think
about American body ideals, can be crystallized. They do that by comparing
our culture to that of the Azawagh Arabs.
American standard is to be slim, thin and lean. We are just as obsessive
about being thin.
Blame media. But we live in an age of media saturation.
What are the culture values that go in to our bodies?
She is a philosopher on North American body ideals. Her idea of
crystallization comes from work she did thinking about anorexia nervosa as a
culture bound disease. Anorexic bodies crystallize our logic, and the
disorders show the short fall to our logics and values.
Bordo the anorexic body is a protest/symbolic critique against our cultural
We need to do more than blame the media. Why thin bodies in the first
1. Historical and cultural disdain of our bodies.
2. Our contemporary fear of loss of control.
3. Women have been gaining more and more power in the new area of the
social realm therefore more influence in the public sphere.
She takes these issues and charts them in axis of continuity. They cross over
each other, and affect each other. If we can understand how each of these
issues manifest in the slim body, we can understand how it’s continuous with
other social phenomena.
The three axis she sets out are:
The dualist axis, gender power axis and the control axis.
Dualist axis: deals with the first issue, the disdain to the body. What’s wrong
with bodies? Western cultural tradition, portrayed human existence as
separated as two realms. And the mind is better than the body, more