Body and Nation

The Global Realm of U.S. Body Politics in the Twentieth Century

Body and Nation

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 16 photographs Published: August 2014

American Studies, History > U.S. History

Body and Nation interrogates the connections among the body, the nation, and the world in twentieth-century U.S. history. The idea that bodies and bodily characteristics are heavily freighted with values that are often linked to political and social spheres remains underdeveloped in the histories of America's relations with the rest of the world. Attentive to diverse state and nonstate actors, the contributors provide historically grounded insights into the transnational dimensions of biopolitics. Their subjects range from the regulation of prostitution in the Philippines by the U.S. Army to Cold War ideals of American feminine beauty, and from "body counts" as metrics of military success to cultural representations of Mexican migrants in the United States as public health threats. By considering bodies as complex, fluctuating, and interrelated sites of meaning, the contributors to this collection offer new insights into the workings of both soft and hard power.

Contributors. Frank Costigliola, Janet M. Davis, Shanon Fitzpatrick, Paul A. Kramer, Shirley Jennifer Lim, Mary Ting Yi Lui, Natalia Molina, Brenda Gayle Plummer, Emily S. Rosenberg, Kristina Shull, Annessa C. Stagner, Marilyn B. Young


“On whole the volume succeeds well in pushing forward the idea of linking body and nation.” — Olaf Stieglitz, H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews

Body and Nation is a valuable contribution to the history of the body and the ‘transnational and transactional dimensions of biopolitics’ (2).... Throughout their volume the included essays put forth a compelling portrait of the social construction of physical bodies and the ways they have ‘intertwined with projections of a U.S. National body’ (2).” — Amanda Regan, Journal of Social History

"[T]he essays are accessible and engaging, illuminating some lesser-known moments in the history of bodies and U.S. empire and revisiting some better-known ones. The book would work well for an undergraduate or graduate course, as it provides a useful introduction to this rich and still-undertheorized topic."  — Molly Geidel, Journal of American History

"The editors have done a superb job in compiling the contributions, the level of coherence between the essays is highly impressive, and it is to be hoped that the collection prompts far greater scholarly engagement with the impact that perceptions of illness, the body, and well-being have had on America's engagement with the wider world." — Bevan Sewell, Journal of American Studies

"A compelling read, Body and Nation is a valuable addition to the expanding field of biopolitics, and will be a useful reference for undergraduates, postgraduates and scholars of American studies, history, comparative literature, and media studies." — Rachele Dini, European Journal of American Studies

"This is a well-edited, engaging collection of essays that would be a valuable addition to upper-level or graduate courses in US history or American studies, or in related interdisciplinary fields such as women’s and gender studies or critical race studies." — Kristin E. Pitt, Canadian Journal of History

"This unusually synthetic and well-conceived volume covers historical and contemporary situations in which the bodies of civilians, combatants, and those defined as outsiders are managed, mobilized, and politically tethered to broad nationalist and imperial projects 'at home' and 'abroad.' In attending to the details of bodily care and coercion, the contributors ask why, how, and when bodies matter, demonstrating the blur between technologies of war and ever more sophisticated forms of peacetime surveillance. Taken together, their essays show that we need to know more about whose bodies count in the changing landscape of national security and imperial governance and in the embattled space between 'care' and 'control.'"

  — Ann Laura Stoler, editor of Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination

"This splendid collection will engage both scholars of American foreign policy and American studies. The essays are lively, pertinent, and very smart. They are a pleasure to read." — Daniel Walkowitz, coeditor of Contested Histories in Public Space: Memory, Race, and Nation


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Emily S. Rosenberg is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy, 1900–1930 and A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory, both also published by Duke University Press, and the editor of A World Connecting, 1870–1945.

Shanon Fitzpatrick is a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of History at McGill University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction / Emily S. Rosenberg and Shanon Fitzpatrick 1

1. Colonial Crossings: Prostitution, Disease, and the Boundaries of Empire During the Philippine-American War / Paul A. Kramer 17

2. Moral, Purposeful, and Healthful: The World of Child's Play, Bodybuilding, and Nation-Building at the American Circus / Janet M. Davis 42

3. Making Broken Bodies Whole in a Shell-Shocked World / Annessa C. Stagner 61

4. Physical Culture's World of Bodies: Transnational Participatory Pastiche and the Body Politics of America's Globalized Mass Culture / Shanon Fitzpatrick 83

5. "The Most Beautiful Chinese Girl in the World": Anna May Wong's Transnational Racial Modernity / Shirley Jennifer Lim 109

6. Roosevelt's Body and National Power / Frank Costigliola 125

7. Making "Brown Babies": Race and Gender after World War II / Brenda Gayle Plummer 147

8. Regulating Borders and Bodies: U.S. Immigration and Public Health Policy / Natalia Molina 173

9. The American Look: The Nation in the Shape of a Woman / Emily S. Rosenberg 189

10. Sammy Lee: Narratives of Asian American Masculinity and Race in Decolonizing Asia / Mary Tsing Yi Lui 209

11. Counting the Bodies in Vietnam / Marilyn B. Young 230

12. "Nobody Wants These People": Reagan's Immigration Crisis and the Containment of Foreign Bodies / Kristina Shull 241

Epilogue. When the Body Disappears / Emily S. Rosenberg and Shanon Fitzpatrick 264

Bibliography 289

Contributors 317

Index 321
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5675-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5664-6
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